What children’s apparel companies are making the safest clothing by avoiding toxic PFAS “forever chemicals”? A recent study looking at the apparel of children has something to say about that! You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like best jackets sans PFAS, best green beauty makeup sans PFAS, and best “Nugget” styled play couches, now join us as we bring you the safest children’s clothing without PFAS.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. This post also contains affiliate links.
PFAS “Forever Chemicals” are Likely to Show up When Clothing is Advertized as “Stain-Resistant” or “Water-Resistant”
A recent study by the Silent Spring Institute gave us some good and bad news in terms of PFAS “forever chemicals” inside the clothing of children. The team sent 93 different products, including clothing, bedding, and furnishings to an EPA-certified lab to look for markers of PFAS. This study published in the Environmental Science & Technology Journal helps consumers with reasonable expectations when shopping.
- The good news was they discovered that when clothing is advertised as “stain-repellent” or “water-repellant” it likely contains PFAS. So looking for these terms can be helpful in avoiding PFAS when shopping.
- The bad news is similar clothing also contained greenwashing marketing terms that led you to believe that clothing was non-toxic or sustainable, which is simply not true. And therefore you cannot rely on claims like “non-toxic”, “sustainable”, or “green” to make clothing purchases and avoid PFAS at the same time.
- 54% of clothing sent to the lab had detectable levels of fluorine, a marker of PFAS.
- Clothing had higher levels of PFAS than other categories tested
- PFOA, a legacy PFAS chemical that has been phased out in the US was detected in a variety of products, mostly coming from China.
PFAS “Forever Chemicals” are Dangerous Around Children
PFAS “forever chemicals” are very problematic to human health and the environment, but in terms of children, they are far more problematic. There are over 12,000 of these persistent chemicals in commerce so they are very hard to track and avoid completely. Because they do not naturally exit the body for many months (or many years) and are not known to degrade in the environment, they were dubbed “forever chemicals.” Therefore, it’s imperative to reduce the amount of PFAS you are exposed to.
Not much is known about the dermal exposure of PFAS, which is the route of exposure for clothing and apparel. However, the PFAS chemical class in general and its exposure to children is very concerning, and the more you can avoid this chemical around children, the better.
“Children’s bodies are still developing and are especially sensitive to chemical exposures,” says co-author Dr. Laurel Schaider, senior scientist at Silent Spring Institute. “It makes sense that parents would want to steer clear of products that contain ingredients that could impact their children’s health now and in the future.”
Here’s a list of some of the health issues linked with PFAS “forever chemicals”:
- reduction in immunity
- reduced vaccination response
- increased risk of allergies & asthma in young children
- affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
- increase cholesterol levels
- metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
- cardiovascular disease
- lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- increase the chances of miscarriage
- lowers male fertility through low sperm count
- smaller penis size
- increase the risk of kidney & testicular cancers
- Causes endocrine disruption
- Disrupts normal thyroid function
If you feel like your child has been exposed to PFAS, especially during pregnancy, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of Community Health Investigations has created this health advisory fact sheet to use when talking to your pediatrician.
Other Places Inside Home to Avoid PFAS
PFAS “forever chemicals” are ubiquitous, which means they are impossible to completely avoid. So instead of having the mindset that you will avoid ALL of them, it’s better to have the mindset to avoid what you can when you can. That’s because avoiding all PFAS chemicals are impossible at this point because of how prevalent they are. Case in point, over 99% of the population has some type of PFAS chemical inside their blood.
Latest studies have found PFAS chemicals in numerous consumer products, and other industries where most people are exposed to them on a daily basis. Here are some examples.
- Non-stick Cookware
- Clothing, including water-resistant jackets, stain-resistant pants, yoga pants & sports bras
- Makeup (however we tested most of the green beauty brands to help you with safe alternatives!)
- Protective gear for medical staff, such as surgical gowns
- Retardants in fire fighting foam meant for grease fires
- Fire fighting protective gear
- Carpets & floor polish (but not this carpet!)
- Bamboo flooring (however we found a safer brand through testing!)
- Laboratory equipment
- Leather treatments
- Car wax
- Surfing wax
- Fast food packaging
- Bike lubricants
- Drinking water close to airports & military bases or utilizing water sources that have been polluted by industry (close to 110 Americans, but if you need a good water filter that filters PFAS, check out these brands!)
- Crops farmed with “sewage sludge”
- Processed foods like ketchup & pasta sauces
- Dairy surrounded by PFAS contamination in the soil and groundwater
If you click through to some of the links above, you’ll find that Mamavation has made an effort to find out where these chemicals are and warn you. We will also link up our own PFAS consumer studies at the bottom of this post.
Mamavation’s Investigation of Children’s Apparel
We wanted to find for you the safest children’s clothing without PFAS. In order to do that, Mamavation took the latest study from the Silent Spring Institute and concentrated on the clothing that was tested in an EPA-certified lab for fluorine, a marker of PFAS. All clothing that had detections of fluorine was placed in the “Not our Favorite” category. Clothing that did not have any detections, went into the “better” section. We didn’t want to disappoint you so we included in the “best” section organic apparel brands, some of which were tested by Mamavation for indications of PFAS. If you would like to see more jackets and outwear, Mamavation did an investigation on both adult and children’s raincoats, jackets, and outwear here.
Not Our Favorite Apparel for Children
These products from different brands had detections of PFAS in their apparel for children when tested by Silent Spring Institute. We do not recommend you purchase from these brands. Other clothing inside the store not labeled stain-proof and water-proof may be fine, but we have no way of knowing unless they are tested.
- Land’s End Boys School Uniform Pants
- Land’s End Girl’s Dress Shirt
- Land’s End Toddler School Uniform Mesh Polo
- Columbia Kid’s Pants
- Old Navy Girls School Uniform Shirt
- Children’s Place Pants
- Gap Baby Jeggings
- George Boys School Uniform Twill Pants
- Snug Bub Baby Onesie
- REI Girl’s Shorts
Better Apparel for Children
These brands did not have detection of PFAS in their clothing when tested, however, they are not organic so there can be trace amounts of pesticide residue, antimony, or bisphenols in the fabric.
Best Apparel for Children — Safest Children’s Clothing without PFAS
Unfortunately, there wasn’t any organic clothing tested by Silent Sprint, however, we still wanted to include some “best” choices for you based on studies that Mamavation has done and what we already know about organic clothing. This category is full of organic apparel for children and babies.
- Burt’s Bees Baby
- Colored Organics
- Hatley (organic selections only)
- Little Planet by Carters
- Le Petit Organic
- Loved Baby
- Mate The Label — non-detect total fluorine via Mamavation’s activewear study
- Mini Mioche
- Moon & Back by Hanna Andersen
- Natural Clothing Company
- Olen Organic
- Pact Organic — non-detect total fluorine via Mamavation’s activewear study (DISCOUNT: Take 20% off your first Pact Organic purchase by using “MAMAVATION” at checkout!)
- Serendipity Organics
- The Simple Folk
Other Mamavation PFAS Testing Projects
Mamavation has been working hard to discover where to find PFAS “forever chemicals” inside food & other products we purchase and bring inside our homes. This is why we have decided to commission our own consumer studies on indications of PFAS in different consumer categories and share that information with you.
- Pasta & Tomato Sauces
- Activewear (Yoga Pants)
- Sports Bras
- Green Beauty Makeup
- Period Underwear
- Parchment Paper
- Bamboo Flooring
We also have other investigations you may like.
- Best Jackets & Outerwear
- Best “Nugget” Styled Play Couches
- Best Yoga mats
- Best Organic Mattresses
- Best Air purifiers
- Best Cookware
- Best Plant-Based Milks
- Best Water Filters for PFAS Filtration
- Best Collagen
- Best Electrolyte Replacement Drinks, Sports Drinks, & Coconut Water
- Best Infrared Saunas
- Best Bubble Bath
Hello, I’m curious about snow/rain gear that is safe for kids and with a budget in mind. Is there any knowledge around the pfas lessening in strength over time? With the idea of buying used children’s outerwear clothing… or does that not make a difference?
Thank you! We try to not buy too many new things as a principle when possible and I’m curious if this would apply or not.
Kathryn Grimshaw Parker
Hello- Carter’s Little Planet sells rashguards and swim suits. Are these PFAS free? Are the shoes in their line? This is all so overwhelming.
I work in fashion and very mindful of how polluted and full of toxic this industry is.
I suggested that you can also look for this certification from Oeko-Tex on the clothing. They test fabric to certify that they’re less harmful to human. Unfortunately even the fabric is certified non toxic or organic, if the manufacture dye it with colors that contain chemicals.unless they use vegetable dyes, It’s still harmful. It’s very hard to find perfectly non toxic clothes for children.
Read this book, it’ll blow your mind on fashion industry.
Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment
Sadly, we’ve tested some Oeko-Tex fabrics and they have had indications of PFAS. I’m part of a group that is pressuring them to change that right now behind the scenes.
Honestly speaking despite being so very acquainted with all that knowledge you are actually so very down to earth and also the very manner in which you just keep serving others with all your knowledge is really very commendable as well as applaudable. Grateful for your works.
Does organic equal pfas free? I get most of my kids’ clothes from H&M’s organic cotton line.
Thank you! To your first point about “stain-repellent” or “water-repellant” clothing, I’d love to submit for consideration a look at non-toxic/non-PFAS water repellant clothing and outerwear (for muddy days, outdoor and nature schools, etc.) This one is so tough!!
Where does Cat & Jack fall on your list?