Many Sports Bras Contain A Toxic Chemical And Here’s What It Means For You

If you wear sports bras and sports shirts every day, experts say you may want to cut back after new tests found high levels of toxic chemicals in some sports brands.

Tests by the Center for Environmental Health in the United States found that eight brands of sports bras and six brands of sports shirts had up to 22 times the safe limit for bisphenol A (BPA), according to the standards established in California.

The sports bra brands tested were Nike, FILA, PINK, Athleta, The North Face, Asics, Brooks and All In Motion.

Sports shirts from The North Face, New Balance, Reebok, Brooks, Mizuno and Athleta were also tested.

To date, the CEH claims to have found BPA only in polyester-based clothing that contains spandex.

What is BPA?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1950s, according to the Mayo Clinic.

It is often used in containers that you would use to store food and water bottles. It is also found in the coating of cans used for canned foods.

“The problem with BPA is that it can mimic hormones like estrogen and block other hormone receptors, altering the concentration of hormones in our bodies and causing negative health effects,” said Dr. Jimena Díaz Leiva, scientific director of the CEH. October 12 press release.

What are the health risks associated with BPA?

Many of us are exposed to BPA daily through packaged foods and beverages, but the United States Food and Drug Administration considers it safe because the amount of BPA in these products is so low.

However, if we are exposed to the toxic chemical in large amounts, it can contribute to a whole host of heart problems, like coronary artery disease, heart attack, and high blood pressure.

“Sports bras and sports shirts are worn for hours, and you’re supposed to sweat in them, so it’s concerning to find such high levels of BPA in our clothes,” said Kaya Allan Sugerman, director of the Illegal Toxic Threats program. at the CEH, said in a press release.

It’s not just through clothes; our skin can absorb BPA when handling certain papers, such as receipts.

Are experts surprised that BPA has been found in clothing?

A Vancouver expert says the findings surprised her because while BPA is known to be in things like plastic food containers, there haven’t been many studies of BPA in clothes.

“As far as I know, this is the first report of bisphenol A in spandex clothing. So it’s alarming, the levels are alarming,” said Lindsay Rogers, assistant professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology from the university. of British Columbia, says Narcity.

However, Rogers notes that the Environmental Health Center didn’t actually report the levels of BPA that were in the tissues, only that they were 22 times above the safe limit, so she says that’s something. to monitor.

Should you limit how often you wear sportswear?

While the report may seem alarming to those of us who wear activewear daily, Rogers says it’s unclear to what extent BPA might also be present in other synthetic fabrics, other than spandex.

For anyone concerned, natural fabrics could be a good alternative.

“A safe or conservative consumer approach would be to wear natural fibers like bamboo or cotton, or especially organic cotton […] because they are very unlikely to find bisphenol A in a natural fiber like cotton,” says Rogers.

Who is most at risk when wearing fabrics that may contain BPA?

When it comes to wearing spandex and workout clothes like the ones mentioned, experts agree that those most at health risk include young children, pregnant women, and women. unborn babies.

The CEH states that exposure to BPA, even at low doses, during pregnancy has been “associated with a variety of health problems in offspring”.

“My opinion would be that until we have more information, if I [were] pregnant, or if I [were] dress my baby or young child in fabrics [like] spandex, I’ll be careful for a little while,” Rogers said.

What will happen next with the brands that have had their products tested?

In the press release, the Center for Environmental Health says it has sent legal notices to all sports brands that have been tested. Businesses will have 60 days to work with the center to fix the breaches.

According to Rogers, health authorities in Europe (including the European Food Safety Association) have always been ahead in studies like these, as they have also focused on dermal exposure, and it is now up to agencies healthcare in Canada and the United States to catch up.

“It is important for our regulatory agencies such as Health Canada and in the United States that it is the FDA […] it’s important for them to keep pace and monitor exposure to these chemicals, dermal exposure or non-oral dermal exposure and right now there’s really been a lack of that.”

What did the companies say in response to the tests?

In a statement to Narcity, Victoria’s Secret, owner of the PINK brand, said: “We are committed to providing only the safest and highest quality products to our customers. We are aware of the Center for Environmental Health’s public announcement and are actively investigating the matter. .”

Sports company Brooks also responded to Narcity with the following statement.

“The safety of our customers is our top priority. We have strict testing requirements and high standards for all materials in our products. BPA is a prohibited substance on the Brooks Restricted Substance List (RSL). Our practice is to only use materials that are either Oeko-Tex 100 Standard certified or bluesign® approved, which demonstrates compliance with our RSL, or materials certified to comply with our RSL by an independent third party/safety standards, but by caution, we are working urgently to investigate these allegations.Our Corporate Responsibility Transparency page provides additional information about our environmental standards and responsible chemicals program.

Narcity did not hear from Athletica, Asics, The North Face, All In Motion, Nike, FILA, Mizuno, New Balance and Reebok in time for publication.

The cover image of this article was used for illustrative purposes only.