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High levels of a toxic chemical discovered in sports bras

KYW Radio Philadelphia 10/14/2022 Christy Strawser
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Study after study shows that women make less money than men for the same job, do a higher percentage of childcare and housework than men in co-parenting relationships, and now there's this: sports bras were just linked to a toxic chemical.

The Center for Environmental Health tested sports bras sold by Athleta, PINK, Asics, The North Face, Brooks, All in Motion, Nike, and FILA and found elevated levels of BPA, an industrial chemical linked to increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among other health concerns.

The sports bras tested could expose wearers to up to 22 times the safe limit of BPA, based on standards set in California. The CEH, a non-profit consumer advocacy group focused on exposing the presence of toxic chemicals in consumer products, conducted the tests over the last six months.

The CEH said in a press release it has sent legal notices to the companies, which will have 60 days to work with the center to remedy the violations before the group files a complaint in California state court that would force them to act.

The tests linked the BPA to polyester-based clothing containing spandex.

“We want brands to reformulate their products to remove all bisphenols including BPA. In the interim, we recommend limiting the time you spend in your activewear by changing after your workout,” the group said.

Athleta, Nike, Reebok, The North Face and Victoria’s Secret did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

For consumers, several experts agreed the best advice is to take off sports bras as soon as you can after working out. Experts at Motherly also recommended: Natural-fiber fabrics over polyester when possible; washing sports bras and athletic shirts on cold and line drying only; and wearing cotton sports bras.

"The problem with BPA is it can mimic hormones like estrogen and block other hormone receptors, altering the concentration of hormones in our bodies, and resulting in negative health effects,” said Dr. Jimena Díaz Leiva, Science Director at CEH. 

“Even low levels of exposure during pregnancy have been associated with a variety of health problems in offspring. These problems include abnormal development of the mammary glands and ovaries that can increase the likelihood of developing breast or ovarian cancer later in life. These effects occur even at low levels of exposure like those seen in people today."

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