Is Your Tee Shirt Toxic?

By Beth Doane

How can something as basic and common as a cotton tee be harmful to your health and the health of millions of people across the globe?

Here’s how:

  • Cotton makes up more than 50 percent of the world’s fiber needs, but the majority of it is grown using extremely toxic chemicals and pesticides.
  • Some of these chemicals and pesticides are considered to be the most lethal toxins in the world.
  • According to, the health risks of pesticide exposure can include birth defects, reproductive disorders and weakened immune systems.
  • According to the World Health Organization, pesticides cause the poisoning of nearly five million people across the globe each year.
  • Formaldehyde is an identified neurotoxin and carcinogen (known to cause cancer and negatively affect our bodies nervous system).  It is used in the apparel industry to set dyes and keep clothes “wrinkle free.” This is the industry standard and undeniably harmful to our health. This is also why most of our apparel comes with a “wash before wearing” label. Sadly, the majority of us have no idea just how important it really is to wash our clothes before they are in contact with our skin, which can absorb these toxins within 30 minutes of direct contact.
  • Most of the dyes used on cotton tees are synthetic dyes made from petrochemicals, which are chemical products made from the raw materials of petroleum.  Like any product containing petroleum or oil, the mining and refining needed to create these dyes pollutes our environment and our bodies with poisonous chemicals.

If this makes you think twice about what you may be really wearing then that’s fabulous.  Without knowledge we can’t make positive choices for our planet and ourselves and who really wants to walk around with formaldehyde in their pores anyways?

For more information on how our apparel affects our environment and how to make eco conscious buying decisions, visit the Rain Tees blog.