A new investigation into toxic water pollution, released today by Greenpeace International, reveals the presence of nonylphenol ethoxylates (1) in clothing items bearing the logos of 14 global brands (2), including Adidas, H&M and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Nonylphenol ethoxlyates are effectively banned in the EU (3), and yet were found in products sold in the UK and across Europe.

Tamara Stark of Greenpeace UK said “It’s the sheer scale of this problem that is so worrying - despite being banned in Europe, we found these chemicals in products from 14 leading brands purchased in 17 different countries, including the UK."

“Our previous research showed that global clothing brands are responsible for the discharge of hazardous chemicals into waterways in China as part of their manufacturing processes," said Yifang Li, Toxic Water Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. “This new report demonstrates that the problem is truly global - people around the world have a right to know about the chemicals that are present in the very fabric of their clothing and the harmful effects these chemicals have when released into the environment."

Launched today in Beijing and Manila, Greenpeace’s second Dirty Laundry report (4) presents the results of analysis of clothing and fabric-based shoes sold internationally by 14 major clothing brands. Of the 78 articles tested, 52 were found to contain nonylphenol ethoxylates, chemicals which break down into the toxic, persistent and hormone-disrupting nonylphenol. The findings provide a snapshot of the kind of toxic chemicals that are being released by the textile industry into waterways all over the world and are indicative of a much wider problem.

Released six weeks ago, the first Greenpeace “Dirty Laundry" report detailed the results of a year-long study linking many of the same clothing brands (5) to suppliers in China who were found to be releasing a cocktail of chemicals into the Pearl and Yangtze River deltas (6). As a result of the global “Detox" campaign, which has included a global striptease (7) and “re-branding activities" (8) at the companies’ stores, both Nike and Puma have publicly committed (9) to the elimination of all discharges of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products.

Adidas and the other brands in the report have yet to take responsibility for the pollution their manufacturing processes release.

“By failing to take action to eliminate these chemicals, global brands like Adidas are expecting customers to do their dirty laundry for them – every time clothes containing these chemicals are washed, hazardous substances are released into waterways across the world. Brands must remove these chemicals from their products, and the best way to do this is to eliminate them from their production processes and to come clean about what chemicals their factories are using and discharging", concluded Li (10).

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace is campaigning to stop industrial pollution of our water with hazardous, persistent and hormone-disrupting chemicals by demanding that companies and governments take action to “Detox" our future.

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