Hazardous Chemicals Revealed In Children’s Clothing

Tests were carried out on 82 items sold by leading clothing brands including adidas, American Apparel, C&A, GAP, H&M, Li-Ning, Nike, Primark, Puma and Uniqlo and the findings revealed in the the report entitled “A Little Story About the Monsters in Your Closet”. 


Chih An Lee, Toxics Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia said:

“As the starting point of the global clothing supply chain, the world needs to be aware of the dangerous corners being cut in manufacturing processes in regions like East Asia. Parents in particular should know the risks these brands are posing to future generations as they use and release these toxic hazardous monsters into our environment.” 


More than half of the products tested contained nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), a group of chemicals that break down in the environment to form toxic, hormone disrupting nonylphenol (NP). High levels were found in products made by brands including Burberry, Disney and American Apparel. Meanwhile, every item tested specifically for per / polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) was found to contain one or more examples from this group of chemicals. [2] For example, an adidas swimsuit contained the highly persistent, PFOA at a concentration higher than the brand’s own limit in its Restricted Substance List. [3]


Though all products tested were intended for children and infants – a group particularly vulnerable to exposure to hazardous chemicals in the environment [4] – there was no significant difference between the range and levels of hazardous chemicals found in this study and those in previous studies looking at adults clothes [5].


“We need the brands to take a good hard look at their supply chain and the monsters they are using to make our children’s clothing. We also need people to recognise the power they have in bringing about change, by joining the growing movement making the industry Detox its supply chain and clean out clothes”, said An Lee


China remains the world’s largest textile producer and chemicals consumer and Greenpeace is calling on the government to help stop the use of hazardous chemicals in the textile industry. It is critical they publish a chemical blacklist to be acted upon immediately and urge factories to disclose chemical information, in order to facilitate chemical elimination and supply chain transparency and create a level playing field for the industry.


[1] A Little Story About the Monsters in Your Closet” – investigation carried out by Greenpeace International, published by Greenpeace East Asia: 



[2] Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are man-made chemicals widely used by industry for their non-stick and water-repellent properties. In the textile industry they are used to make textile and leather products both water and stain-proof.


[3] adidas Restricted Substance List (see: http://www.adidas-group.com/media/filer_public/85/09/850915ac-f85f-4533-8e87-3c84c8093193/a01_sept_2013_en.pdf)


[4] A number of factors including size, metabolism and behaviour, can make infants, children and the developing foetus more vulnerable to some hazardous chemicals. See: http://www.greenpeace.org/china/zh/publications/reports/toxics/2014/detoxglobal P25


[5] Greenpeace International carried out a number of reports looking at the presence of hazardous chemicals in adults clothing items. See:http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/#st=Toxics