One or more of these is probably on your body right now.

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 8:41 PM

What are you wearing?

You probably work out, eat right and think twice about what you put in your body, but what is on it?

Linen- Linens are known for the “breathability” and are favored in hotter climates. Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant in a rather laborious manner. The word “linen” is used loosely, and can mean any general fabric or style of clothing and it is constantly evolving; this is part due to the fact that linen is one of the oldest textiles.  While organic linens are considered completely safe and free of toxins, it’s important to be aware that linens are often woven with other filler materials and are not always properly labeled.
Cotton- Cotton is one of the most heavily cultivated crops in the world, accounting for the use of nearly for 2.5% of the world’s viable growing lands. Due to its high demand, cotton, and its cultivation have changed over the years. BT pesticides were heavily used, which caused “pests” to become resistant, which lead to the cultivation of GM cotton crops.  The U.S. GM cotton crop was 4.0 million hectares in 2011, the second largest in the world, although the demand for organically grown cotton is on the rise. Cotton’s international monetary trade value is roughly $ 12 billion annually. Like Linen, cotton is often blended with other fibers to create an end product.
Polyester- Polyester is categorized as a group of polymers, when speaking of fabrics; “polyethylene terephthalate” is typically what is being referred to.  Polyesters can be comprised of naturally occurring chemicals, but are more than often comprised solely of synthetics created through a process called “step-growth polymerization”.  Very few types of polyesters are biodegradable.  Polyesters are widely used, and can be seen everywhere from your sofa to your belt to your shoes and your car tires.  Polyester fabrics are sometimes seen as favorable to those seeking clothing that is “wrinkle resistant” and “durable”.
Nylon-Nylon is a group of synthetic polymers that create a “silky” material that gained popularity in the late 1930’s. This material was quickly seen everywhere. It is used to create; stockings, toothbrush bristles, carpet, rope, parachutes, tires, clothing and so on.  There are several ways nylon is created, through chemical productions that involve the combination of molecules with an acid creating a type of thermoplastic that can then be manipulated in to one of several types of nylon. Nylon has many notable characteristics that make it favorable for many industries; high resistance to mold, fungi and insects, very durable, variation/ease of manipulation and it melts instead of burns.
Spandex- Spandex has many names, it is known for its extreme flexibility and durability. Spandex is widely used in sportswear, but has seen increased usage as we prefer clothing that stretches. It is preferred by active individuals due to its ability to dry, or wick sweat and water quickly. There are 4 main ways in which spandex is created though the “dry spinning method” is used to create roughly 95% of the world’s spandex fibers. This process begins with the creation of a “prepolymer” which is done by mixing two different monomers. The solution is reacted with an equal portion of diamine, creating what is called a “chain extension reaction” at which point a solvent is added to make the solution more pliable. It is inserted into a cylindrical spinning cell where it is converted into fibers. The fibers are then treated with yet another chemical, to prevent sticking and bunching.

Next time you're in your closet, take a look at the tags on your clothing. Do you know what it is? Can you pronounce it? Would you eat it? Your skin sure will!

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