We’ll examine whether polyester is toxic in this article, along with some eco-friendly polyester substitutes.
Polyester fabric is used widely! There’s a good chance that the synthetic material will be listed on the label of almost any article of clothing you purchase if you read it. But is using polyester fabric safe? Is polyester toxic?
Most polyester products are toxic and shed harmful chemicals around you, mainly when using polyester bed sheets or apparel. Taking more than 200 years to break down, polyester is a non-biodegradable material.
Let’s have a thorough discussion about whether polyester is toxic or not.
Is Polyester Toxic?
Our health and the environment could be negatively impacted by the chemicals used in its production. Chemical treatments are frequently used on polyester to make it fire-resistant or simple to iron. Your skin is unable to breathe because of it. In discomfort and skin irritability, particularly in hot weather.
Some of the many toxic chemicals embedded in polyester include:
- Antimony: a substance that causes cancer and is known to be carcinogenic. It can be released into the air and water and is frequently used as a catalyst in the manufacture of polyester.
- PFOA: a substance that makes polyester waterproof. It has been connected to thyroid disease, cancer, and reproductive problems.
- Formaldehyde: in the manufacture of polyester, is frequently used as a finishing agent. It is an irritant that has been connected to cancer and can cause respiratory problems.
- Perfluorochemicals (PFCs): makes polyester stain-resistant when used. A number of health problems have been connected to these chemicals.
Here are common questions about the toxicity of other fabrics:
Polyester May Release Irritant Chemicals into Your Environment When Heated
It might not be a good idea to dry polyester fabrics in a dryer. Hazardous chemicals like formaldehyde may be able to escape when heat is applied. When the body touches the bedsheets at night, the same thing could occur.
Perfluorochemicals, which the skin then absorbs, may be released into the air when using synthetic bedding. The liver, kidneys, and reproductive systems may be harmed as a result of skin exposure to perfluorochemicals, according to evidence from animal studies.
Polyester May Release Carcinogens
Additionally, complex processes are used by some manufacturers when producing polyester fabrics. In order to make polyester blend better with cotton, some manufacturers add chemicals like formaldehyde and ammonia to it, as was covered in the previous section.
These two substances can aggravate asthma symptoms because they are both irritants. Furthermore, the EPA classifies formaldehyde as a “possible carcinogen,” based on numerous lab reports and human trials. The organization thinks it might make myeloid leukemia more likely.
There are a number of less serious (yet distressing) health conditions that are linked to formaldehyde exposure at air levels higher than 0.1 parts per million. When exposed to the substance, people may feel sick, wheeze, have itchy skin, cough, have watery eyes, or feel their throats burn.
To keep polyester from crinkling after washing, some manufacturers add Teflon to it. Sadly, they might also contribute to it being carcinogenic. Manufacturers can provide clothing that is wrinkle- and stress-free thanks to the perfluorochemical Teflon.
However, studies suggest that it can enter the body and build up over time. Evidence suggests that it may lead to serious health problems like liver and kidney damage as well as problems with reproduction.
Last but not least, antimony, a known carcinogen, is frequently found in polyester fabrics. Because antimony is used as a catalyst by manufacturers to create polyethylene terephthalate, which is then extruded into yarn, labs frequently find antimony residues in about 80 to 85 percent of polyester fibers.
Antimony remains embedded in the material and, according to research, may cause “respiratory irritation, pneumoconiosis, antimony spots on the skin and gastrointestinal symptoms.”
Polyester Can’t Be Recycled
With the technology we currently have, polyester cannot be recycled entirely because it is not renewable or biodegradable. Only one company in Japan is attempting to recycle its polyester, while businesses around the world continue to produce it despite the fact that it cannot be recycled.
Even if it begins to deteriorate after 100 years, it will release methane, a gas that is more potent and hazardous than carbon dioxide.
Polyester Smells Bad
Polyester clothes are smelly as they provide the ideal habitat for some bacteria. Most people believe that their sweat is to blame, but human sweat has no odor. The bacteria in our bodies are responsible for breaking the chain of fatty acids at work, which makes us smell bad.
Micrococci, which adores polyester, is the main bacterial offender found in our clothing. Even after washing, these germs are still present in polyester clothing.
Effects of Polyester on Health
As we discussed, polyester is thermoplastic, releasing plastics on each wash, and it must not be in your house, especially in your bedding. The most important aspect of life is health, and polyester is harmful to humans. The impact on human health is what we’ll discuss now.
Toxic chemicals in polyester won’t allow your skin to breathe and increase the sweating that stimulates oil production and heat that causes acne and other skin irritations. Polyester clothing commonly causes redness, rashes, and itching. Polyester is bad for the skin, so avoid it if you have sensitive skin.
Research indicates that there is about 29% of plastic in the air, and polyester clothing sheds plastics with each use. Indoors, the proportion of plastic fiber is higher than outdoors. As a result, the plastic enters the lung tissue and causes serious respiratory problems as we breathe around it.
Immune System of Kids
Doctors always advise cotton fabrics for children because their bodies are already delicate and require more care than those of adults. Polyester is bad for babies as these synthetic fibers with lots of chemicals affect their immune systems and cause many other health problems.
May Cause Allergies
Those who are allergic to polyester may experience contact dermatitis, a condition in which the skin reacts in an allergic way. According to researchers, it occurs as a result of the toxic substances present in some polyester fabrics.
Contact dermatitis, itchiness, skin redness and dryness, and abnormally warm skin are symptoms of allergic reactions to polyester. Hives or blisters may appear on the bodies of those who experience severe reactions. Along with the pain, they might also feel their chest tightening or have trouble breathing.
An allergic reaction to polyester typically manifests its symptoms within a short period of time. However, in some circumstances, it might take them a few days to appear.
Is Recycled Polyester Safer?
Many people are unsure if recycled polyester is any better given the alleged health issues with regular varieties. The recycled PET-based polyester fabrics that eco-fashion brands use in their products are advertised today.
PET plastic bottles are where the majority of recycled polyester comes from. Similar to how it was previously described, processing facilities crush the bottles, cut them into tiny pieces, melt them, and then extrude yarn from the resulting molten material.
It generally results in a small reduction in waste and pollution, making it an environmentally friendly choice. It is still harmful to the Earth and to each individual human body, though, because it depends on essentially the same processes as before.
In some circumstances, recycled polyester might even be more dangerous. This is due to the possibility that fabrics may contain the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) from plastic bottles that contain the substance.
According to Mayo Clinic, BPA exposure, especially when exposed to heat, can cause issues with children’s brains and prostate glands, raise blood pressure, and increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Healthier Alternatives to Polyester
What are some non-toxic, eco-friendly alternatives to polyester and other synthetic materials then?
Here are a few options to consider:
- Organic Cotton: It is healthier for the environment and those wearing the fabric to use organic cotton because it is grown without toxic pesticides and dangerous chemicals.
- Bamboo: You can produce soft, breathable fabric from bamboo, a plant with a quick growth cycle that is sustainable. Be careful to select a bamboo option that is truly sustainable because the market for bamboo fabrics is currently very popular but rife with greenwashing.
- Linen: Flax plants, which grow with little need for pesticides and water, are the source of linen. Furthermore, it is more environmentally friendly than polyester and biodegrades quickly.
- Hemp: Another eco-friendly option for fabric is hemp, which grows with little pesticide and water use. Additionally, it is resilient and naturally anti-microbial.
- Silk: Although more expensive than the natural options mentioned so far, silk is typically even more comfortable. Although it is organic, biodegradable, and renewable, because insects are used in its production, it is not vegan.
Although sustainable fabrics may cost more than synthetic ones, they are frequently worthwhile investments for both environmental and health reasons.
Conclusion: is Polyester Toxic?
Polyester is toxic in all aspects; if you want to protect your body as well as this planet, then keep its consequences in your mind. Even though it’s risky, some people occasionally think it’s best for fine clothing. Stay safe by doing your best to avoid it.
In this article, we have pointed out all of the evidence against using polyester as a fabric, highlighting all possible ways that it might harm you. It is important to keep in mind, though, that the vast majority of people come into contact with fabric on a daily basis without experiencing any negative consequences.
Is It Safe to Wear Polyester?
For those with sensitive skin, prolonged contact with polyester can up to three days later result in rashes, itching, redness, eczema, dermatitis, blistering, and other skin-related symptoms. Chemicals used to make Polyester, such as the known carcinogen antimony oxide Sb2O3, are released by heat.
Are Polyester Sheets Better for Sleep?
Although polyester sheets are sturdy and comfortable, you can’t use them in the summer because they aren’t breathable.
Is Polyester Toxic for Babies?
Because it is inexpensive and simple to produce, polyester is probably one of the fabrics you’ll find most frequently in infant and toddler clothing. However, it is also one of the worst fabrics for your baby’s skin.