School Uniforms Are Rich in Toxic Chemicals “Forever” Linked to Cancer, Infertility and Dementia

Beware of … school uniforms! The study finds they are abundant in “forever” toxic chemicals that are linked to cancer and infertility

  • Experts testing the clothes found that school uniforms are full of “chemicals forever”
  • Called PFAS, these stain resistant industrial chemicals do not degrade naturally
  • They have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, as well as to obesity and asthma rates
  • 20% of American children wear school uniforms, but this rises to 98% in the UK

School uniforms can pose a health risk to children, research suggests.

Tests showed that items such as blazers, shirts and ties contained particularly high levels of “chemicals for good”.

It is feared that PFAS, as they are scientifically known, disrupt the growth of young people and have been linked to cancer and infertility.

Chemicals, designed to make surfaces resistant to stains and water, do not decompose naturally in the environment, hence their nickname.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Marta Venier, of Indiana University, said, “PFAS don’t fit any outfit.

One study found that children’s school uniforms are filled with industrial ‘chemicals forever’ that have been linked to increased cancer risk and infertility later in life (archive image)

What ARE “chemicals forever”?

“Forever chemicals” are a class of common industrial compounds that do not decompose when released into the environment.

Humans are exposed to these chemicals after coming into contact with food, soil or water reservoirs.

These chemicals, more properly known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are added to pots, rugs, fabrics and other items to make them more water-repellent and stain-resistant.

PFAS contamination has been detected in water near manufacturing facilities, as well as in military bases and fire training facilities where flame retardant foam is used.

The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer and damage to the immune system, as well as birth defects, lower birth weight, and a reduced vaccine response in children.

“But their use in school uniforms is of particular concern.

“The uniforms are worn directly on the skin for up to eight hours a day by children, who are particularly vulnerable to damage.”

PFAS have been added to fabrics for decades to prevent stains. They are also used in pots, children’s toys, and can now be found in some water reserves.

Children are exposed to substances in clothing by direct contact with the skin and by inhalation or ingestion of fibers.

They can build up in the bloodstream.

Fellow researcher, Professor Miriam Diamond, of the University of Toronto, said, “I don’t know any parent who appreciates their child’s health stain repellency.”

Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, who was involved in the research, called for urgent action.

He said: ‘To protect our children and future generations, the entire PFAS class should be eliminated from school uniforms and all other products where they are not essential.

“Manufacturers can prevent harm by moving away from PFAS as soon as possible.”

Only a fifth of American public school children wear uniforms, but they are much more common in the UK.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, analyzed 72 samples of products purchased in the United States and Canada between 2020 and 2021.

Experts focused on items labeled stain, water, or wrinkle resistant.

“Forever Chemicals” and the impact of their exposure to human health were at the center of the 2019 legal thriller “Dark Waters” starring Mark Ruffalo

They also looked at other children’s clothing, such as sweatshirts, swimwear, bibs, and gloves.

PFAS concentrations were highest in school uniforms, particularly in items labeled as 100% cotton.

The researchers said more studies now need to be conducted to explore whether exposure to PFAS through clothing has changed over the years of use and after multiple washes.

The chemicals, properly known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have been linked to an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer.

Studies have also suggested that they damage the immune system and increase the risk of birth defects.

There are about 5,000 different types of chemicals.

They appeared in the 2019 Hollywood film Dark Waters with Mark Ruffalo after a community’s water was poisoned by chemicals from the local plant.