Water is essential for life, but it is also the world’s most threatened essential resource. It is imperative that solutions are found to stop poisoning the precious resources we have left with hazardous chemicals.
New research commissioned by Greenpeace International shows that residues of the hazardous chemicals nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) – used in textile manufacturing – remain in many clothing items sold by major international clothing brands and, when washed, a significant percentage of the chemicals in these clothes is released and subsequently discharged into rivers, lakes and seas, where they turn into the even more toxic and hormone-disrupting chemical nonylphenol (NP).
This can happen wherever in the world clothing items are sold and washed, and means that brands are making their consumers unwitting accomplices in the release of these hazardous substances into public water supplies.
This is the first ever study to investigate differences in the amounts of NPEs in fabric products before and after washing, as far as we are aware, and the results have major implications for brands and governments – demonstrating that the direct pollution impacts of the textile sector extend far beyond the country of manufacture and are creating a global cycle of toxic pollution.