BPA in Baby Socks
We’ve heard of BPA in water bottles, food containers and canned food linings but baby socks? Green Living expert, Aida Garcia-Toledo, discusses the recent findings
By now most people have heard about BPA, also known as bisphenol A, an endocrine disrupting chemical that mimics the hormone estrogen. It can be found in plastics (bottles, toys, food containers), canned food linings and thermal store receipts. Prenatal and postnatal exposure to BPA has been associated with adverse health effects in children, including obesity, asthma, behavioral problems, and early puberty.
What few people know, until two recent studies, is that everyday clothing may be a substantial source of BPA exposure.
In 2015, a study from China found BPA in 82% of textiles sampled.
The researchers found that 97% of infant socks sampled contained the highest concentrations of BPA (the socks they tested were all purchased in the US), particularly high levels were found in socks made of polyester and spandex.
This month a second study, conducted in Spain, looked specifically at infant and children’s socks and found that 90.6% of socks sold for babies and children contain BPA. Even more troubling was that 35.4% of the socks contained BPA levels that exceeded the EU standard of 0.1 ppm for toys. The highest BPA levels in this study were found in local bargain retailers, where socks contained more than 25 times the BPA levels of the socks sold in higher-end retailers.
Can BPA be washed off?
No. The BPA rates were not reduced after laundering clothes. In fact, clothing containing BPA seems to contaminate other clothes in the wash – resulting in higher average BPA levels in used clothes than in new clothes.
Should we be alarmed at these findings?
Yes. While the estimated skin exposure to BPA through socks is relatively low, BPA is known to cause harmful effects at low dose levels, especially in infants and young children.
The chemicals taken from these baby socks behave like the female hormone estrogen and they can also inhibit the production of testosterone. When our bodies experience a long period of time with a hormone imbalance (higher levels of estrogen and/or lower levels of testosterone) such as the ones that BPA exposure may cause, there can be increased risk of hormone-related cancers, attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity, genitourinary disorders, premature sexual development, lower male sperm quality and obesity in children.
Considering babies are especially vulnerable to chemicals and that they often place their feet in their mouths, it’s important that parents take measures to avoid BPA exposure as much as possible.
Being exposed to small amounts of BPA through different sources (other clothing, food, household items etc) adds up, especially in infants and young children.
How to avoid BPA
The only way to be 100% certain your baby’s socks and clothing doesn’t contain chemicals like BPA is to:
- Buy GOTS or Oeko Tex certified products
- Buy items made of pure and natural materials like wool, alpaca, cashmere, 100% organic cotton, and hemp. Synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and spandex require additives to be produced, with one of the most common additives being BPA
- Make sure socks are not placed in baby’s mouth
- Launder baby items separately from the rest of the family’s clothing using non-toxic detergents free of synthetic fragrance and harmful chemicals
Our Favorite Safe Sock Picks
Made of 100% Extrafine Merino wool, Condor’s Short Socks are perfect for both cool-weather playdates and special occasions.
Made of 100% alpaca wool for little toes that need to look stylish, but want to feel warm and cozy, you’re going to want Oeuf’s Mary Jane Booties!