Advocating For A Healthy Fashion Future

With this petition we are calling for restrictions to be placed on 33 chemicals used in clothing production that have been classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction.




Chemicals: EU steps up action against hazardous chemicals in clothing,  textiles and footwear - EU Reporter

*Read the petition in Spanish here.

Today’s world can feel overwhelming. As we use our voices to bring attention to worthy causes, there are many human rights and environmental issues that demand our attention. It can feel hard to keep up, but trust us when we say: this is worth a moment of your time. Or, if you don’t want to read the nitty gritty, simply put... WHAT WE PUT ON OUR BODIES GOES IN OUR BODIES...

The Issue:

Our closets are filled with clothing doused in harmful chemicals. (That is exposure 24/7/365 days a year...unless you live life naked). There are over 8,000 artificial ingredients used in the production of clothing. Many of these chemicals are proven to be extremely hazardous to our health and environment (science facts below).

You might be asking, “How is this even possible?!”

The fashion industry is completely unregulated. (Well, SHIFT!!)

  1. There is no U.S. federal agency that oversees the chemicals used in clothing.
  2. There is no law that requires brands to disclose ingredients, outside of naming the fabric.

Fabric, such as polyester, is made up of many different ingredients… like formaldehyde.

The way our clothing is being made does not have us in mind. Scientific evidence shows that consumers are NOT being protected; factory workers are NOT being protected; our planet is NOT being protected.

The Fix:

The EU has placed restrictions on the use of 33 chemicals used in clothing production that have been classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction. (This restriction applies to both EU-made and imported clothing.)

With this petition, we are calling for these same restrictions in the U.S.

How you can help #MakeShiftHappen:

  1. SIGN THE PETITION! Your voice is powerful!
  2. SPREAD THE WORD! Tell your friends by entering their emails here!
  3. LEARN MORE! Sign up here for group Zoom sessions with our founder and MDs!
  4. ASK BRANDS QUESTIONS! #WhatsInMyClothes #WhoMadeMyClothes
  5. SHARE HOW YOU #FEEL! It’s not just about how we look. It’s about how we feel. Shift won’t happen unless there is massive public pressure. Wear it #ForTheFeel.
  6. JOIN THE CONVERSATION! Stay-up-to date @ForTheFeelFashion

Examples of harmful chemicals in clothes & their side effects:

  • Phthalate esters, or phthalates, are a group of industrial chemicals used to increase flexibility and softness of plastic products, and phthalates are widely used in the textile industry to make our clothing (1).
  • It is well established that phthalates are endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer, obesity, diabetes, thyroid problems, infertility, and asthma (2, 3, 4, 5).
  • One of the most widely used phthalates, DHEP, is KNOWN to be toxic to reproductive development in mammals (6).
    • In 2014, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommended that numerous phthalates be banned from children’s toys, because studies have connected exposure in rats to adverse impacts on female reproductive success and male reproductive tract abnormalities (7).
      • The evidence for this connection is so strong, the disorder is called “phthalate syndrome”(4).

-> Multiple studies done over the past decade have measured phthalate content in various types of clothing; not only were phthalates detected in all garments tested, but every study found phthalates at higher amounts than the EU Commission Regulation has deemed safe (8, 9, 11).

  • Many textiles contain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are waterproof and grease resistant.
  • These PFCs are known as “forever chemicals” because they build up in our bodies and do not break down over time (12).
    • A 2020 study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has demonstrated that these PFCs also have immunosuppressive effects when absorbed through the skin (13).
    • The National Toxicology Program emphasized the immunotoxicity of PFCs in their 2016 review, noting that these hazardous chemicals suppress our immune responses in adults and children.
      • For example, studies have revealed that higher levels of PFCs in adults’ blood corresponded to reduced immunity from a flu vaccine (14, 15, 16).
  • There have been hundreds of studies since the 1960s examining the toxicity of PFAS, and these chemicals have been associated with a higher cancer risk and decreased fertility (17, 18).
  • Despite these concerning and clear health risks, Thinx “organic” menstrual underwear tested positive for PFCs, including on the inside layers of the crotch, in an independent lab this past year.
    • The levels of PFCs found were “high enough to suggest they were intentionally manufactured with PFAS” (19).

-> These chemicals should not be used to manufacture our clothing, and they certainly should not be used in the underwear we wear closest to the most absorbent part of our bodies.


  • Formaldehyde, which goes by many other names including formalin, methyl aldehyde, and many others, is a chemical preservative that is widely used in the textile industry to make clothing wrinkle-resistant, shrink-resistant, and waterproof (20).
  • More specifically, formaldehyde has been associated with an increased risk of developing cancer within the nose and mouth (nasopharyngeal carcinoma)(21).
  • Various studies have found that the formaldehyde levels in clothing is sufficient to cause an itchy and bothersome rash called allergic contact dermatitis (23, 24, 25).
  • The European Union REACH Council HAS restricted the use of formaldehyde used by EU clothing companies in order to protect consumers from this chemical. BUT AMERICAN CLOTHING COMPANIES ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATIONS (26).

-> American consumers are being left vulnerable to unknown amounts of formaldehyde in every article of clothing that they wear.

  • Azo dyes are synthetic dyes that are used by 70% of the textile industry (27).
  • Bacteria on our skin can transform azo dyes and cause the release of aromatic amines (AAs), which are known to mutate DNA and cause cancer (28, 29).
  • These aromatic amines can be absorbed through the skin, but despite these properties most azo dyes are not regulated within the clothing industry (28).
  • Azo dyes which may release one of the unregulated carcinogenic AAs are banned from clothing textiles in the European Union (Annex XVII of the REACH regulation; No, 1907/2006), BUT THIS REGULATION DOES NOT EXIST FOR THE UNITED STATES. (30)
  • There is evidence that azo dyes are present in some women’s underwear, which lies close to the skin and makes an environment that promotes absorption of these chemicals into the skin (31).
  • The fabric that contains the highest concentration of these toxic dyes was traditional cotton, which most consumers believe is the most natural option for clothing (31).
  • These chemicals have the potential to cause serious adverse effects to consumers, AND YET IT IS NOT DISCLOSED TO CONSUMERS WHEN THEY ARE INCLUDED IN THE CLOTHING PRODUCTION PROCESS.

-> These toxic dyes should not be used to make clothing, but if they are clothing companies should provide an inclusive ingredient label that informs the consumer before they purchase their clothing.


  1. Rovira, J., & Domingo, J. L. (2018). Human health risks due to exposure to inorganic and organic chemicals from textiles: A review. Environmental Research. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2018.09.027
  2. Gray JM, Rasanayagam S, and Engel C, et al (2017) State of the evidence 2017: an update on the connection between breast cancer and the environment Environ Health 16(1) 94
  3. Lioy PJ, Hauser R, and Gennings C, et al (2015) Assessment of phthalates/phthalate alternatives in children’s toys and childcare articles: Review of the report including conclusions and recommendation of the chronic hazard advisory panel of the consumer product safety commission J Exp Sci & Environ Epidemiol 25(4) 343–353
  4. Casals-Casas C and Desvergne B (2011) Endocrine disruptors: From endocrine to metabolic disruption Ann Rev Physiol 73 135–162 55.
  5. Miodovnik A, Engel SM, and Zhu C, et al (2011) Endocrine disruptors and childhood social impairment Neurotoxicology 32(2) 261–267
  6. Lin H, Ge R-S, Chen G-R, Hu G-X, Dong L, Lian Q-Q, Hardy DO, Sottas CM, Li X-K & Hardy MP (2008). Involvement of testicular growth factors in fetal Leydig cell aggregation after exposure to phthalate in utero. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105(20): 7218–7222
  7. Lioy PJ, Hauser R, and Gennings C, et al (2015) Assessment of phthalates/phthalate alternatives in children’s toys and childcare articles: Review of the report including conclusions and recommendation of the chronic hazard advisory panel of the consumer product safety commission J Exp Sci & Environ Epidemiol 25(4) 343–353
  8. Pedersen, H., Hartmann, J., 2004. Toxic Childrens wear by Disney. Greenpeace investigations. Brussels. Available at: 〈 169871/Disney_Report.pdf〉
  9. Negev, M., Berman, T., Reicher, S., Sadeh, M., Ardi, R., Shammai, Y., 2018. Concentrations of trace metals, phthalates, bisphenol A and flame-retardants in toys and other children’s products in Israel. Chemosphere 192, 217-224.
  10. Chun Wang, Wentao Li, Yueguang Lv, Hua Bai, Peng Zhao, Luhong Wen, Changhai Wang, Qiang Ma. (2020) Rapid analysis of perfluorinated carboxylic acids in textiles by dielectric barrier discharge ionization-mass spectrometry. Microchemical Journal 155, pages 104773.
  11. EC, European Commission, 2009. European Commission Regulation (EC) No 552/2009 (REACH Annex XVII- the previous Directive 2005/84/EC) of 22 June 2009 Amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as Regards Annex XVII (Text with EEA Relevance).
  13. Shane HL, Baur R, Lukomska E, Weatherly L, Anderson SE. Immunotoxicity and allergenic potential induced by topical application of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in a murine model. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2020;136:111114. doi:
  14. National Toxicology Program. 2016. NTP Monograph on Immunotoxicity Associated with Exposure to Perfluorooctanoic Acid or Perfluorooctane Sulfonate. Available at:
  15. Rappazzo KM, Coffman E, Hines EP. 2017. Exposure to perfluorinated alkyl substances and health outcomes in children: A systematic review of the epidemiologic literature. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14(7):691. Available at:
  16. Looker C, Luster M, Calafat AM, Johnson VJ, Burleson GR, Burleson FG, Fletcher T. 2014. Influenza Vaccine Response in Adults Exposed to Perfluorooctanoate and Perfluorooctanesulfonate. Toxicology Sciences. 138(1):76:88.
  20. Groot ACD, Maibach HI. Does allergic contact dermatitis from formaldehyde in clothes treated with durable-press chemical finishes exist in the USA? Contact Dermatitis. 2010;62(3):127-136. doi:
  21. Swenberg JA, Moeller BC, Lu K, Rager JE, Fry RC, Starr TB. Formaldehyde Carcinogenicity Research: 30 Years and Counting for Mode of Action, Epidemiology, and Cancer Risk Assessment. Toxicol Pathol. 2013;41(2):181-189. doi:10.1177/0192623312466459
  22. Blackwell M, Kang H, Thomas A, Infante P. Formaldehyde: evidence of carcinogenicity. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1981;42(7):A34, A36, A38, passim.
  23. Latorre N, Silvestre JF, Monteagudo AF. Allergic Contact Dermatitis Caused by Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Releasers. Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas (English Edition). 2011;102(2):86-97. doi:10.1016/S1578-2190(11)70765-X
  24. Reich HC, Warshaw EM. Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Formaldehyde Textile Resins. Dermatitis. 2010;21(2):65-76. doi:10.2310/6620.2010.09077
  25. Fowler JF. Formaldehyde as a textile allergen. Curr Probl Dermatol. 2003;31:156-165. doi:10.1159/000072245
  26. EUR-Lex - 32018R1513 - EN - EUR-Lex. Accessed March 4, 2021.
  27. Benkhaya S, M’rabet S, El Harfi A. Classifications, properties, recent synthesis and applications of azo dyes. Heliyon. 2020;6(1). doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03271
  28. Brüschweiler BJ, Merlot C. Azo dyes in clothing textiles can be cleaved into a series of mutagenic aromatic amines which are not regulated yet. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2017;88:214-226. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2017.06.012
  29. Neumann H-G. Aromatic amines: mechanisms of carcinogenesis and implications for risk assessment. Front Biosci. 2010;15(1):1119. doi:10.2741/3665
  30. Commission Regulation (EC) No 552/2009 of 22 June 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards Annex XVIIText with EEA relevance. :25.
  31. NGUYEN T, SALEH MA. Detection of azo dyes and aromatic amines in women under garment. J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2016;51(9):744-753. doi:10.1080/10934529.2016.1170446



  • Dr. Lindsay Gould, M.D. – Dr. Gould is an OBGYN resident and is extremely invested in reproductive justice and believes the decision to become a mother is incredibly personal. Last year she researched and authored a resolution entitled “Opposing Legislative Efforts to Restrict the Provision of Reproductive Healthcare,” which was voted on and incorporated into the Medical Society of Virginia’s Policy Compendium. “I’m proud to support For The Feel’s mission to transform the fashion industry! Let’s make the shift toward ethically-sourced, sustainable clothing that is free from harmful chemicals and doesn’t exploit female garment workers worldwide.
  • Candler Clawson - Candler is a 4th-year medical student and her area of focus is Dermatology. She recently published a paper titled “Risk of Formaldehyde-Induced Contact Dermatitis from N95 Masks” which discusses the use of formaldehyde in face masks being worn during the COVID-19 pandemic and the danger that this chemical poses to consumers who are wearing these masks to protect themselves. Through her research she learned that the same hazardous chemicals being used in are also being used in the clothing we wear every day. She believes that the clothing industry should be held accountable for what they put in our clothes, and that consumers have the right to know how their clothing impacts their skin. “Joining For The Feel was my first step in making my voice heard and advocating for a healthier and more ethical fashion industry. I hope to empower other consumers to speak up and demand that clothing companies shift their product production to be transparent, ethical, and sustainable. Together, we can make shift happen.
  • Stephanie Wagner - Stephanie is the CEO and founder of For The Feel. After years of working in the NY fashion world, she became deeply concerned about the industry’s effect on humanity, our environment, and ultimately our personal health. When the pandemic hit, and she realized fabric face masks, (doused in chemicals from the fashion industry) were going to be a vital part of our everyday wardrobe... she couldn't keep quiet. “In starting this business, I have chosen to devote my career to designing and fighting for a fair and healthy fashion future that #feels good to people and the planet.