Worrisome BPA Levels Found In Sportswear By Nike, Adidas, Patagonia And More, Group Alleges


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Mar 16, 2023

Worrisome BPA Levels Found In Sportswear By Nike, Adidas, Patagonia And More, Group Alleges

The Centers for Environmental Health have sent legal notices to eight activewear

The Centers for Environmental Health have sent legal notices to eight activewear brands after finding high levels of BPA in their clothing, a chemical that experts have found can potentially increase blood pressure, the risk of cardiovascular disease and cause infertility.

flat lay with sportswear with sneakers, fitness tracker and sports bottle isolated on grey

The Centers for Environmental Health announced Wednesday it initiated legal action against eight activewear brands after the organization found the brands had more than 40 times the legal limit of BPA in their clothes.

According to the announcement, the California-based group found high levels of BPA in Nike, Patagonia, Athleta, Champion and Kohl's leggings, Adidas, Nike and Champion athletic shorts, Fabletics athletic shirts and Sweaty Betty sports bras.

BPA stands for bisphenol A and it's an industrial chemical used to make plastics and resins—it can regularly be found in water bottles, eyewear, shatterproof windows, the resin that coats some metal food cans, bottle caps and water supply pipes.

Under California's Proposition 65 law, the maximum allowable dosage of BPA through skin exposure per day is three micrograms.

The CEH told CNN its investigations have only found BPA in polyester-based clothing made with spandex.

A spokesperson for Athleta said in a statement: "As a certified B-Corp, Athleta is deeply committed to ensuring all our products are made to applicable safety standards. We believe the CEH claims have no merit and stand by our products and practices."

Forbes has reached out to these companies for comment.

"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 told CNN.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, there's concern surrounding BPA because "human exposure is widespread." The main source of exposure is through diet. Because it's found in things like plastic food containers, metal cans, baby bottles and plastic bottles, it can leach into food from the resin used in these items. In the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of the 2,517 study participants’ urine, from the age six and up. A 2015 study published in the Annals of the National Institute of Hygiene found BPA can negatively affect both female and male infertility, puberty, and several metabolic syndrome disorders, like polycystic ovary syndrome. A separate study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found a link between BPA and type two diabetes, and the Mayo Clinic reports BPA has been linked to increased blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several ways consumers can prevent BPA exposure. One way is using BPA-free products. Manufacturers label products without BPA. If a product doesn't have a BPA-free label, some plastics with the recycle code three or seven contain BPA. Another method is to avoid putting plastic containers in the microwave or dishwasher because the heat may break them down over time, allowing the BPA to ooze into food. The Mayo Clinic also recommends using plastic alternatives like glass, stainless-steel or porcelain for food and eating fresh whole fruits and vegetables.

The Centers for Environmental Health previously warned consumers in October 2022 that sports bra brands PINK, Nike, Fila, the North Face and Acsis contained over 22 times the maximum allowable BPA dosage. The group also tested athletic shirts from companies including Reeboks, New Balance, The North Face and Mizuno and found the same results. The organization gave these companies 60 days to work with the group to fix the violation before taking legal action—the group initiated lawsuits against the companies in February.

New Testing Shows High Levels of BPA in Sports Bras and Athletic Shirts (The Centers for Environmental Health)

The Fight Continues: BPA in Activewear (The Centers for Environmental Health)

High levels of toxic chemical found in sports bras, watchdog warns (CNN)