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Health or Harm: What’s in Your Workout Band

March 28, 2022   Lily Moser

Are you working towards better health, well-being, or major muscle gains? If so, you’re most likely acquainted with workout bands: the light-weight, easy-to-use, strength-building workout tool. But what many people might not know is that there are hidden toxic chemicals in some of these bands that could harm your health as you use these products to up your fitness game.

The Center for Environmental Health’s (CEH) testing has shown that popular workout brands such as Adidas, Go Fit, and AmazonBasics have been selling latex workout bands that contain cancer-causing nitrosamines as a result of their latex processing. Last spring, CEH initiated legal action against 15 companies that sell latex workout bands.

These chemicals were found in workout bands at up to 6,000 times the levels of the nitrosamines, NDEA and NDMA, allowed under California law. Moreover, the product manufacturers did not warn consumers about possible nitrosamine exposure from using the product. Nitrosamines have the potential to wreak havoc on many of our vital organs, and are known to cause cancer in organs and tissues including the lungs, brain, liver, kidneys, bladder, stomach, esophagus, and sinuses*.

Nitrosamines are found in these workout bands because of the curing process – or the process of turning rubber into durable latex – but not all latex bands contain nitrosamines, and latex can be produced without these toxic chemicals. A recent study published in the International Journal for Scientific Research and Development examined nitrosamine-producing accelerators used in rubber curing. The authors found that there are available alternatives for manufacturers to use to reformulate their products. 

The Center for Environmental Health continues its legal efforts to force these companies to reformulate their products, leaving consumers with a safer, healthier workout band.

Litigation to make these products safer can be a lengthy process, and many people want to know what they should do in the meantime. For now, CEH recommends using fabric-covered resistance bands or resistance bands with handles attached which help to limit direct skin exposure to latex materials. Remember to wash your hands after using latex workout bands to reduce your exposure to nitrosamines.

The following companies have reached legal agreements with CEH and will be required to remove NDEA and NDMA from their latex workout bands: Endurance Brands; Evriholder Products, LLC; Gymshark USA, Inc.; and Urban Outfitters Wholesale, Inc. Stay tuned for updates on the dates by which each company will be required to have safer products on store shelves. 

*Source: EPA.gov