Harmful chemicals found in major sportswear apparel brands: CEH

Harmful chemicals found in major sportswear apparel brands: CEH

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) said on Wednesday it has sent legal notices to several sports bra and athletic shirt brands after testing showed the clothing could expose individuals to up to 22 times the safe limit of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), according to California law.


The sports bra brands under investigation include AthletaPinkAsicsThe North FaceBrooksNikeFilaMizunoNew BalanceReebok

Defendants will have 60 days to work with CEH to remedy the violations before CEH files a complaint to do so, ​according to a statement issued by the CEH.

A hormone disrupting chemical, BPA mimics estrogen and can disrupt the normal functioning of the body, including metabolism, growth and development, and reproduction, explained CEH.

“People are exposed to BPA through ingestion (e.g., from eating food or drinking water from containers that have leached BPA) or by absorption through skin (e.g., from handling receipt paper),” said Kaya Allan Sugerman, illegal toxic threats program director at CEH.

“Studies have shown that BPA can be absorbed through skin and end up in the bloodstream after handling receipt paper for seconds or a few minutes at a time. 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.” 

Recent CEH investigations have found BPA in polyester-based clothing with spandex, including socks made for infants. In the last year, CEH has pushed more than 90 companies to reformulate their products to remove all bisphenols including BPA.

“The problem with BPA is it can mimic hormones like estrogen and block other hormone receptors, altering the concentration of hormones in our bodies, and resulting in negative health effects,” said Dr. Jimena Díaz Leiva, science director at CEH. 

“Even low levels of exposure during pregnancy have been associated with a variety of health problems in offspring. These problems include abnormal development of the mammary glands and ovaries that can increase the likelihood of developing breast or ovarian cancer later in life. These effects occur even at low levels of exposure like those seen in people today.”

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