Wearing sportswear made of fabrics containing metals such as antimony can be potentially dangerous to health if its use is continued, according to research conducted by scientists from the Rovira I Virgili University (URV) of Tarragona (northeastern Spain).
The effects of antimony in contact with the skin translate into some dermal effects, as well as problems in the gastrointestinal tract and in the reproductive system.
The experts analyzed the composition of almost 150 garments purchased in different stores in the region, from supermarkets to clothing stores of specialized brands. And they were able to identify some garments that, in direct contact with the skin, could be potentially dangerous if the person wearing them did it continuously.
We decided to learn a bit more about sportswear and how you should choose which one is the best for you, and therefore we brought in experts from Sports Mom Survival Guide, who created this gear guide and we therefore couldn’t argue with their authority.
Can sportswear be dangerous?
This is the case of polyester clothing – the fabric used in sports shirts, for example -, in which an antimony presence was detected that, in some cases, is above the allowed limits.
According to the researchers, this metal is used as a catalyst to make polyester fibers and it is customary to leave residues in the clothing manufacturing process.
In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified antimony trioxide as a possibly carcinogenic metal for people.
The university explained in a statement that researchers studied almost 30 different metals that contained the tissues and their effects when they interact with the skin.
Although the risks derived from dermal exposure to some toxic metals have traditionally always been considered residual, this work shows, according to scientists, that some levels of black polyamide have high levels of chromium and other pieces of green, blue or brown include high levels of copper.
They also detected the presence of silver and titanium nanoparticles in various clothing items, of which the toxic effects are still unknown.
But of all the results, what put them on alert was the presence of antimony in some polyester garments.
The researchers – Joaquim Rovira, Martí Nadal, Josep Lluís Domingo, and Marta Schumacher – used inductive coupling mass spectrometry, which allowed them to isolate clothing components and identify what metals it contains.
Subsequently, they generated artificial sweat to check if the metals in the tissues are released from the sportswear in contact with the sweat and if they are impregnated in the skin in a migration process.
They also used procedures that allowed them to detect silver and titanium nanoparticles in the tissues through the electron microscope, and then assessed the risks that the presence of these metals analyzed has for health.
The work of URV scientists shows that people are currently exposed, through the skin, to a “cocktail of additives from the textile industry” of some of whose compounds the effects are unknown, although in the case of antimony would pose a health risk in case of dressing continuously.
From this investigation, the next lines of study will focus on investigating other substances present in clothing that is in contact with the skin, such as flame retardants and perfluorinated compounds.
Researchers also want to assess what effects these substances have on the microflora of the skin since if it becomes impoverished it can end up causing allergies and infections of other foreign or parasitic microorganisms.