Spandex is widely used in our clothes. But as a synthetic fabric, is it toxic to our bodies? Here we explain the toxicity of spandex.
Due to technological advancements, a wide range of materials are now used to make clothing. Manufacturers of textiles are also increasingly using man-made fibers, including spandex, in addition to organic fabrics.
However, since spandex is entirely synthetic, no organic materials are used in its production; instead, every component is made in a lab. Additionally, a lot of energy, hazardous chemicals, and raw materials are used in the production of spandex. So the answer to ” Is Spandex Toxic” is Yes.
Let’s examine the dangers of spandex.
Is Spandex Toxic?
The same chemicals used in the finishing process as with other synthetic fabrics are the source of the problem. Due to these chemical processes, some sensitive people may react to spandex.
It’s likely that the clothing company you are buying from knows what spandex they are using and what chemicals it might contain if they also use organic cotton and wool. I would not be concerned about a small amount of elastic or a very low percentage of spandex used in clothing if you are not someone who is sensitive to it.
Why is Spandex Toxic?
Several highly toxic chemicals that cause serious health issues are used in the spandex manufacturing process. Polyurethane, which is used to make spandex, is mutagenic and can cause cancer.
The kidneys, liver, brain, and bone marrow can all suffer harm from prolonged exposure to this chemical. There are no exposure limits for workers due to the substance’s known health risks.
Toxic on Skin
It should not be surprising that the harmful substances in spandex can irritate the skin. Other rubber or rubber-processing chemicals added to the fibers can also irritate the skin, and TDI itself can result in dermatitis.
- It can trigger allergies
Latex, which can trigger allergic reactions, may also be present in spandex. More transparent spandex is less likely to contain latex, so keep that in mind as a general rule.
- It can cause fungal or bacterial skin disorders
Due to spandex’s inability to absorb sweat, your skin may become a breeding ground for bacterial or fungal infections. Ringworm, which results in skin inflammation as red rings with central pigmentation, is one common skin disorder brought on by this synthetic material.
In addition to that, it can lead to excruciating itching. On the other hand, bacterial infections like folliculitis and impetigo are also fairly common among patients who regularly wear spandex clothes
- It can cause yeast infections
If you are wearing spandex underwear, change them right away to cotton ones because they will allow your skin to breathe and will prevent yeast infections.
Since it can t absorb moisture or sweat, it is only a matter of time before the Candida albicans fungus starts breeding, which is responsible for vaginal yeast infections. This can happen to men as well, especially in the summer.
Spandex is made of plastic and is not biodegradable in the slightest, especially when compared to linen, which will break down in a landfill in a few weeks. Even worse, spandex is a source of microplastics, which is a problem.
As a result, used clothing doesn’t just sit in a landfill for the foreseeable future; tiny pieces of it end up in our water, food, and ultimately, our bodies.
Other Disadvantages of Using Spandex
Although spandex fibers have a lot of benefits, there are also certain “limitations.”
Sensitive to Heat
Spandex is a fabric that is heat-sensitive due to its chemical makeup. The chemicals used to make spandex are the cause of its extremely low heat resistance. Special care must be taken when washing spandex or ironing spandex-containing clothing because doing so will permanently damage the fabric.
Due to its hygroscopic nature and poor breathability, spandex-made clothing not only has low heat resistance but also traps moisture, sweat, and bad odor close to the skin, leading to frequent skin rashes and other skin infections.
This is the main justification why spandex is not favored in clothing for activities that cause sweat, like working out. After a certain amount of time, white spandex clothing turns yellow.
Harmful to the Environment
There are a few problems with spandex that make the material harmful to the environment, in addition to the fact that it can lead to chemical sensitivity problems and contact dermatitis.
The utilization of spandex brings a negative impact on the environment, to the extent that “no feasible solutions” have been made and pitched to curb the spandex-induced environmental degradation.
A significant quantity of synthetic dyes is needed for the manufacture of synthetic fibers like spandex.
One of the most harmful environmental practices in the textile industry is the use of artificial colorants, which can harm water quality, interfere with plant growth, enter the food chain, hinder photosynthesis, and increase the need for biochemical and chemical oxygen.
Unsustainable for the Planet
The significant energy and power consumption during the production of spandex renders it an unsustainable fabric for the environment. Spandex is a synthetic fiber made from petroleum, a fossil fuel that results in methane emissions, oil spills, and deforestation.
Half of the carbon emissions in the United States and about a third of the carbon emissions worldwide are caused by this totally nonrenewable resource.
Furthermore, since spandex is a non-biodegradable fiber, it persists in the environment for a very long time and ends up in landfills without the aid of any notable process that could turn it into a biodegradable substance.
What Can You Do?
You can start by ceasing to purchase synthetic fibers made from petroleum and polyurethane, such as spandex and polyester. We should all try to avoid buying plastic clothing, just like we should try to avoid buying plastic bottles.
There are so many other natural fiber options available that don’t drain the already overburdened resources of our environment. When shopping, try to keep an eye out for those! Furthermore, if you take better care of your clothing between wears, you can keep it on longer.
When your favorite pair of leggings is finally too worn out to wear, recycle them at a textile bank. They might be able to be cut up and made into a brand-new pair of attractive sportswear!
Conclusion: is Spandex Toxic?
The chemicals used to make the fabric, such as formaldehyde and toxic dyes, will be released into your skin once you perspire while wearing spandex, causing contact dermatitis.
Spandex cannot absorb sweat, so when moisture builds up on the skin it becomes an entry point for bacteria and other allergens. Infections from bacteria or fungi may also flourish there, leading to serious rashes, life-threatening allergic reactions, ringworm, folliculitis, impetigo, and other pigmentations.
What is the Least Toxic Clothing Material?
Buying organic cotton not only reduces the number of toxins you breathe and exposes your skin but can lessen the number of pesticide chemicals released into the water supply when washing your clothes. Silk, flax, wool, and tencel (a fabric made from sustainable wood pulp) are additional good fabric substitutes to look for.
Is Spandex as Bad as Polyester?
Many hazardous chemicals are used in the manufacture of spandex. However, it releases fewer microplastics than polyester. Although it’s hard to avoid spandex, you can lessen your impact by washing it in cold water and letting it air dry.
Is Spandex Made With BPA?
Epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics are manufactured using the industrial chemical BPA. Many people don’t realize that it is widely used in manufacturing synthetic fabrics including polyester, nylon, and spandex. Manufacturers coat fabric fibers with BPA to strengthen them and make production easier.