As we have often pointed out on this blog, one of the chemicals frequently used in the production of textiles and clothing is formaldehyde – yes, the same stuff they use to embalm corpses at your local mortuary. Clothing manufacturers use it to prevent wrinkling and mildew in shipping, despite the fact it is a known carcinogen and tests have shown that some clothes made in China were found to have 900 times the recommended safety limit of the chemical.
While it may only cause mild skin irritation for some, for others, like UK resident Merlene Paul, the effects of the chemical can be devastating. After three months of working around rolls of fabric treated with formaldehyde, she began to feel very ill.
“I started off with flu-like symptoms and then I developed bloodshot eyes and my nose started to bleed. I visited the doctor repeatedly but they couldn’t explain it. Then I developed welts on my body.”
Not long after her symptoms developed, she collapsed while at work and was finally diagnosed with an allergy to formaldehyde. Paralyzed for two weeks, it was a struggle for her to finally walk again. You can read more about Merlene's ordeal, and about others like her who suffer from severe allergies to toxic chemicals and dyes in clothing in this article from The Daily Mail.
You can learn more about what kinds of chemicals are used in clothing manufacture and their effects on the Greenpeace website.