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How your clothes influence the air you breathe

There is growing evidence that our clothing exposes us to particles and chemicals on a daily basis – and that this exposure could carry significant health risks. Scientists therefore need to better quantify this exposure so that we can develop strategies for mitigating those risks. At least that’s according to Dusan Licina, a tenure-track assistant professor at EPFL’s Smart Living Lab in Fribourg, who has just published a critical review of research on this topic in Environmental Science and Technology. He emphasizes that everyday clothing can expose us to potentially toxic chemicals and biological particles by releasing millions of such substances, depending on how we use and treat the fabrics. He suggests that all clothing should include a label indicating not just what materials it is made from, but also what substances were used in the fabrication process.  “Today there are no laws or regulations addressing this issue,” says Licina. In short, we know that clothing can have a significant impact on our daily exposure to particles and chemicals, through the air we breathe and the contact with our skin, but we need further research to understand what full ramifications are in terms of public health.