Center for Environmental Health (CEH), an American non-profit organisation, has reported that an increasing number of athletic wear, including leggings, sports bras, shorts, and athletic shirts have been found with high traces of a toxic chemical called BPA.
- In October 2022, CEH had warned consumers about the high levels of BPA present in the athletic wear.
- Apart from this, CEH sent legal notices to 8 brands whose athletic wear (leggings, shorts, athletic shirts, sports bras) after being tested indicated high amounts of BPA being present in them, and that the customers wearing those clothes could be exposed to up to 40 times the safe limit of BPA, as per the standards set in California.
- As per California law, the maximum allowable dose level for BPA through skin exposure is 3 micrograms per day.
- According to CEH, as per the investigation that was done to check for BPA levels in clothes, it found out that the chemical is only in polyester-based clothing that contains spandex.
What is the chemical BPA?
- BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a chemical component used to make certain kinds of plastic. It is present in polycarbonate plastic that is used in food packaging and is used to manufacture certain beverage containers (such as cans), canned foods, food and beverage liners.
- People can be exposed to a low amounts of BPA if the chemical compound migrates from the food or beverage packaging into beverages or foods.
Harmful health effects of BPA
- Dangerous health effects and exposure to BPA can lead to obesity, asthma, and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and erectile dysfunction.
- In terms of exposure to BPA, the indigestion of the chemical compound is mostly studied (consuming this chemical if its on a food or beverage packaging).
- And in terms of skin exposure, people are mostly exposed to BPA through store receipts that are printed by a heat-generated printer.
- According to the professor of immunology with Tufts University School of Medicine, Ana Soto, she asserts that research groups established that BPA exposure through indigestion and via skin (dermally) are both harmful for our body.
- She added: “When you are exposed to a little dose orally and a little dose transdermally, they will together make a large dose. I’ve studied the effects of low doses of BPA during fetal development and found that these low exposure levels increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, behavioral issues and cancer.”
- On the contrary, an industry trade group, American Chemistry Council maintains the stance that BPA is a properly tested chemical and "it has a safety track record of more than 50 years.”
- Dr Jimena Díaz Leiva, science director with CEH said, "Even low levels of exposure [to BPA] during pregnancy have been associated with a variety of health problems in offspring.”
- Another concerning health effect of BPA noted by Kaya Allan Sugerman (CEH’s illegal toxic threats program director) is that since BPA can be absorbed through skin and end up in our bloodstream, then "sports bras and athletic shirts are worn for hours at a time, and you are meant to sweat in them, so it is concerning to be finding such high levels of BPA in our clothing.”
Athletic brands whose products have found high levels of BPA
- Brands whose leggings have found high levels of BPA: Athleta, Champion, Kohl’s, Nike and Patagonia
- Sports bras from the brand Sweaty Betty
- Athletic shirts from the brand Fabletics, The North Face, Brooks, Mizuno, Athleta, New Balance, and Reebok
- Sports shorts from from Adidas, Champion and Nike
- Center for Environmental Health, in October 2022, warned consumers about BPA, they claimed that sports bras from brands such as Athleta, PINK, Asics, The North Face, Brooks, All in Motion, Nike, and FILA were checked for BPA levels for over a period of 6 months indicating that the clothes could potentially expose those who wearing it to to up to 22 times the safe limit of BPA (according to California standards).
Will you be more cautious when you buy your next athletic outfit from these brands or will you make sure you change into your clothes quickly once you're back from working out? (to prevent BPA from getting absorbed by your skin)