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New Testing Shows High Levels of BPA in Socks

Contact: Emily DiFrisco at

The Center for Environmental Health found clothing brands had up to 19 times over the safe limit of the chemical

[FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE] OAKLAND, CA – The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) sent legal notices to 42 companies today after extensive testing showed BPA in baby, children’s, and women’s socks at up to 19 times over the safe limit of the chemical, according to California law. 

BPA is a well-studied chemical, known to cause developmental and reproductive harm and linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, metabolic disorders, diabetes, and numerous other serious health concerns. CEH sent legal notices to 42 companies whose socks contained BPA, including brands Hanes, Champion, Tommy Hilfiger, New Balance, Fruit of the Loom, Reebok, Forever 21, and others. 

BPA can be added in the manufacturing of polyester as an intermediary step to improve the natural properties and lifespan of a fabric. CEH tested socks with different blends of polyester, cotton, and spandex, and found BPA in the socks made predominantly from polyester with spandex. CEH has not found BPA in socks predominantly made from cotton.

“Parents may remember that BPA has been eliminated from most baby bottles and sippy cups, but may not know the chemical is still used in many products,” said Michael Green, CEO of the Center for Environmental Health. “Negative health outcomes associated with BPA exposure in infants and toddlers include developmental harm, early onset of puberty, alteration of the development of reproductive organs, harmful effects on immune system function, metabolic disorders, and other effects. As a parent, I know babies put their feet in their mouths. We don’t want BPA in our products, period.” 

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) lists BPA as a female reproductive and developmental toxicant and sets a limit of 3 micrograms per day of dermal exposure for BPA. CEH’s testing showed socks that exceeded this limit by more than 3 times, with the worst offender exceeding the limit by 19 times.

“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 shown 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.”

“I am proud of the groundbreaking testing CEH has done revealing BPA in socks made for babies, children, and adults,” said Kaya Allan Sugerman, Illegal Toxic Threats Program Director at CEH. “Our litigation has changed industries, removing lead from fashion accessories, candy, and children’s products; flame retardants from furniture and nap mats; and cadmium and lead from jewelry. Now we hope to do the same by removing BPA from socks.”

“No one should be exposed to BPA in their products,” said Emily Reder, Illegal Toxic Threats Research Manager at CEH, who led the testing. “These clothing brands must reformulate their products or adjust their manufacturing processes to eliminate this chemical of concern for the health of us all.”

Defendants will have 60 days to work with CEH to remedy the violations before CEH files a complaint to do so. 

About Center for Environmental Health 

Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is a 25 year old organization leading the nationwide effort to protect people from toxic chemicals. Learn more at