A watchdog has warned that a growing number of sports bras, T-shirts and leggings have been found to contain high levels of toxic chemicals.

New York (CNN) An increasing number of sports and athletic apparel brands have been found to have high levels of BPA in them, which is a chemical compound used to make certain plastics and can lead to adverse health effects such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and obesity. said the group on Wednesday.

After warning customers in October about BPA in sportswear, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) said it sent legal notices to eight other brands whose leggings, shorts, sports bras and sweatshirts after testing showed the garments could expose wearers to up to 40 Twice the safe limit for BPA, based on standards set in California.

Under California law — specifically Proposition 65, which was enacted in 1986 — the maximum allowable dose of BPA by skin exposure is 3 micrograms per day.

The California-based CEH, which conducted the testing, was founded in 1996 as a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. The alarm has sounded over chemicals found in furniture, carpets and floors as well as lead and cadmium in children’s jewelry. Advises universities, companies and hospitals on potential chemical hazards in products.

Newly tested aesthetic apparel brands and products include leggings from Athleta, Champion, Kohl’s, Nike, and Patagonia, sports bras from Sweaty Betty, sweatshirts from Fabletics, and shorts from Adidas, Champion, and Nike. CNN has reached out to the companies for comment.

An Athleta spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday: “As a certified B-Corp, Athleta is deeply committed to ensuring that all of our products are made to applicable safety standards. We believe CEH claims have no merit and adhere to our products and practices.”

Previously, CEH warned consumers in October that sports bras from Athleta, PINK, Asics, The North Face, Brooks, All in Motion, Nike, and FILA tested for BPA over six months showed the garment could expose the wearer to up to 22 times the safe limit for BPA, based on standards set in California.

The group also tested sweatshirts in October from brands that included The North Face, Brooks, Mizuno, Athleta, New Balance, and Reebok and found similar results.

CEH sent legal notices to the companies last year, giving them 60 days to work with the center to address violations before the group files a complaint in California state court asking them to do so. The group said it later filed lawsuits in February against the companies.

So far, the watchdog has said its investigation has found BPA only in polyester and spandex-containing clothing. “We want brands to reformulate their products to remove all BPA, including BPA. In the meantime, we recommend limiting the time you spend in your activewear by changing after a workout,” the group said.

Athleta, Nike, Reebok, The North Face and Victoria’s Secret (which owns PINK) did not provide comment to CNN at the time.

BPA (Bisphenol A) is found in a large number of everyday products, from water bottles and canned foods to toys and floors. In adults, exposure to BPA has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and erectile dysfunction.

A 2020 study found that premature death is also linked to exposure to BPA. Recently, BPA has also been linked to asthma in school-age girls.

“People are exposed to BPA through eating food or drinking water from containers that have leaked BPA, or through dermal absorption,” Kaya Allan Sugerman, director of the Illegal Toxic Threats Program at CEH, said in a statement.

“Studies have shown that BPA can be absorbed through the skin and end up in the bloodstream after handling receipt paper for seconds or a few minutes at a time. Sports bras and sweatshirts are worn for hours at a time, and you’re supposed to sweat in them, so It’s alarming to find such high levels of BPA in our clothing,” said Alan Sugerman.

Over the past year, the group has required more than 90 companies, including Walgreens and socks and sleepwear brand Hypnotic Hats, to reformulate their products to remove all BPA, including BPA. Some have already agreed to do so.

Even lower levels of exposure [to BPA] “During pregnancy, it has been associated with a variety of health issues in offspring,” said Dr. Jimena Diaz-Leyva, director of science at CEH.

Although CEH is suing under the California Clean Drinking Water and Toxic Water Implementation Act of 1986, it says the ramifications of its settlements extend beyond California “since it is often not economically feasible for companies to reformulate for the California market only.”

“Our legal actions have successfully led entire industries to remove certain chemicals from products such as children’s candy or children’s toys,” the group said in a statement to CNN Business in October. “These cases not only protect consumers in California but also consumers across the country.”

—- CNN’s Sandy Lamott contributed to this story

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