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Question from Bonnie


I remember Debra wrote cotton plus polyester blend fabric has formaldehyde added. I looked at sweaters -st. john bay from JCP which have cotton plus nylon. Macy’s Karen Scott sweaters have cotton plus acrylic, but I did find some cotton only ones. Would the nylon /acrylic added ones also have formaldehyde added?

Lisa’s Answer

Formaldehyde is typically used in clothing to minimize wrinkles.  It can be found even in 100% cotton clothing particularly if it is something that wrinkles easily like a dress shirt.  Here is one older study that tests several clothing items (pg 36) and as you can see there is formaldehyde found in 100% cotton as well as many types of cotton/synthetic blends.  What it also shows is that items that are prone to wrinkling are more likely to test higher in formaldehyde.  Given that a sweater is less likely to wrinkle it may not contain formaldehyde regardless of the material but I can’t tell you that for certain.  You can call the companies and ask them but they are not required to disclose that information.  If the item has a chemical odor that is an indicator (but not definitive) that it contains formaldehyde.

I wish that there was a standard rule of thumb that could tell more definitively what has it and what does not, but that is not the case.


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