An Analysis of the Effects of Toxic Textiles on Humans and the Environment

Toxic textiles can have significant negative effects on both humans and the environment. These effects arise from the production, use, and disposal of textiles that contain hazardous substances. Here’s an analysis of the impact of toxic textiles:

Human Health Effects

Toxic chemicals used in textile manufacturing, such as formaldehyde, azo dyes, and flame retardants, can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, rashes, and itching. Even more problematic are the impacts on other biological systems. For instance, some chemicals used in textiles, such as phthalates and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are known to be endocrine disruptors. They can interfere with hormone function and have adverse effects on reproductive health, development, and overall wellbeing.

Textiles also affect upper respiratory systems and are carcinogenic. Certain textile treatments and dyes contain formaldehyde, heavy metals, and aromatic amines. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of cancer.

Environmental Impact

Textile production involves extensive water use and the discharge of chemical-laden wastewater into rivers and streams. This polluted water can contaminate aquatic ecosystems, harm marine life, and affect drinking water supplies.

Chemical residues from textile dyeing and finishing processes can accumulate in soil, leading to soil degradation, reduced fertility, and disruption of ecosystems. Not confined to water and soil contamination, textile manufacturing processes release various pollutants into the air. These pollutants include VOCs, particular matter and greenhouse gases.

Textile waste is a significant concern. Discarded garments made of toxic textiles can release harmful substances into the environment during decomposition. Additionally, the disposal of textile waste in landfills contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Worker Safety

Textile manufacturing workers, particularly in developing countries, may face occupational hazards due to exposure to toxic chemicals without proper safety measures. This can lead to acute and chronic health issues among workers.

Addressing the issue of toxic textiles requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders:

  • Regulation and Standards: Governments can implement stricter regulations on the use of hazardous substances in textile production and enforce compliance with safety standards.
  • Sustainable Practices: The textile industry can adopt eco-friendly and sustainable manufacturing processes, such as using non-toxic dyes, reducing water usage, and implementing proper waste management systems.
  • Consumer Awareness: Educating consumers about the hazards of toxic textiles can drive demand for safer and more sustainable products, encouraging manufacturers to adopt better practices.
  • Innovation and Research: Continued research and development of safer textile materials and production methods can help reduce the reliance on toxic chemicals.

By addressing the impact of toxic textiles on human health and the environment, we can strive towards a more sustainable and responsible textile industry.

Dear Darkening Ground

Dear darkening ground,
you’ve endured so patiently the walls we’ve built,
please give the cities one more hour
and grant the churches and cloisters two,
And those that labor —maybe you’ll let their work
grip them for another five hours, or seven
before you become forest again, and water,
and widening wilderness,
in that hour of inconceivable terror
when you take back your name from all things.
Just give me a little more time.
I just need a little more time,
because I am going to Love the things
as no one has thought to love them,
until they’re real and worthy of you.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Poet

Source: The Impossible Future

“We cannot design just to please our clients anymore” – Yasmeen Lari

Architects must stop waiting for commissions from wealthy clients and prioritise designing for the planet, says RIBA Royal Gold Medal winner Yasmeen Lari in this exclusive interview.

Speaking to Dezeen from her home in Pakistan, Lari said she hopes her Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Royal Gold Medal win, announced today, can encourage other architects to use their skills to alleviate crises such as climate change.

“The future of the planet is in our hands,” Lari told Dezeen. “Architects have a very important role to play and we cannot design just to please our clients anymore or just to please ourselves.”

“The planet is far bigger and far more important than any one of us. When we design, we really have to be feeling the Earth in some way, we cannot continue to inflict damage on it.”

Lari becomes the sixth woman and second sole female to ever win the prestigious accolade, presented by King Charles III this year for the first time.

The selection committee praised Lari for her “focus on architecture as a complete and vital social, cultural, economic and aesthetic model”.

“An architect’s role should be more of an activist”

Lari is best known for what she calls “barefoot social architecture”, which focuses on improving the lives of disadvantaged communities through low-cost, low-carbon, zero-waste materials and building technologies.

She believes the award reflects a positive change in attitude towards this humanitarian brand of architecture, which people originally thought she was “a bit crazy” for pursuing.

“I never even imagined that what I was doing, which is so different and wasn’t taken very seriously, would be considered as a legitimate way for an architect to be doing things,” she explained.

Lari spent much of her career designing large buildings for major corporate clients as part of her own studio before retiring in 2000 to specialise in humanitarian work.

She explained that this decision was partly down to wanting a change from designing big projects that were all “aiming for the same thing – just to impress everybody”.

“I think it’s a fallacy to think that you can’t do without concrete and steel,” said Lari.

“We’ve got to rethink how we want to build,” she continued. “I can imagine not everybody will want to use earth or bamboo, but lime can be used by many.”

Lime, a material found in much of Lari’s work, was commonly used by the Romans as an ingredient in concrete and is capable of continually absorbing carbon from the atmosphere.

“Architects are not looking at [alternative materials] because none of these commercial companies giving you all those leaflets [are manufacturing them],” she said.

“Unfortunately, we are very lazy,” she continued. “We just want to look at something and just have it ready for us. We have to now organise ourselves for the ones who really care.”

“Level playing field” for women still needed

Aside from her work in humanitarian architecture, Lari is also well-known as Pakistan’s first female architect.

She believes that her RIBA Royal Gold Medal win today is a reflection of improvements in the industry’s gender balance and acknowledgement of the value of women in architecture.

“I think it’s a very brave decision that RIBA, and all the people instrumental in making this decision, have made,” she said.

“I think there is a realisation that women have a role to play, that there is something of value that they can also offer,” she added. “Women can make a contribution that may be different from what men can do.”

In her home country of Pakistan, she said, this is particularly evident.

“In Pakistan there are many female architects now who are doing extremely well,” she explained. “So I think the gender bias, perhaps at the professional level, is not so evident.”

Source: Dezeen Jobs

Indoor Air Quality 101


When making the case for green buildings, in regard to the economics, one of the key arguments is that green buildings create a better indoor environment. A better indoor environment results in higher productivity and improved economic performance based on the productivity of the workers. The intent of IEQ is to provide systems that will insure the quality of the indoor environment. The pieces are in place to facilitate this quality indoor environment and then to eliminate or reduce potential contaminants that might be introduced to the environment.

Consider this: The national average cost in terms of salaries and benefits per square foot per year is $318.2 The average cost of the rent or mortgage is around $20. The energy costs for the same square foot is $2.25. So the people are more than ten times the rent, and more than a hundred times the cost of the energy. Ask yourself if it makes more sense to make an investment in the indoor environment, especially good breathable air, or have a small savings in energy? Small changes in performance by people have a big return on investment, considering that the people cost 100 times as much as the energy.

Increasing the quantity of outdoor air will increase the quality of indoor air. If too little outdoor air is entering a building, contaminants will build up and occupant health will suffer. Providing more fresh air is a key factor in reducing contaminants indoors.


When increasing the ventilation in a building, the energy costs go up and a larger HVAC system may be needed. An important design decision, and one that often is discussed and debated, is the added energy cost vs. the added air.

If adding air increases energy use, there is a negative impact on the environment if the energy comes from fossil fuels. If a minimal amount of air is used, are occupants going to have health issues? You might consider the comparison from the introduction, outlining the cost of an employee per square foot vs. the cost of energy per square foot.

Source: LEED

Climate Change and Nature Based Solutions

Daily I read articles from LinkedIn posts that provide invaluable information. I learned quickly how important it is for me to be able to capture some of this information in a way that allows me to “go back” and reference information. That is the purpose of this particular blog. It’s all about saving information that I can reference at my leisure.


Source:  Nature Based Climate Solutions

“Stabilizing climate cannot be achieved solely through the reduction in fossil fuel consumption. Solving the climate crisis—and a host of interrelated “polycrisis” indicators such as biodiversity collapse, food systems disruption, forced migration, and economic inequities—depends on regenerating the more than 40% of the terrestrial living world that has been destroyed or degraded through human activities. Successful climate action depends on a new paradigm of understanding both the causes of climate change and the broader scope of the solutions we must implement. This approach—regenerative nature-based climate solutions—can turn the polycrisis into a poly-solution.”

Source: FEMA Nature Based Solutions

“Natural hazards pose a serious risk to states, localities, tribes and territories throughout the United States. These hazards include flooding, drought, hurricanes, landslides, wildfires and more. Because of climate change, many natural hazards are expected to become more frequent and more severe. Reducing the impacts these hazards have on lives, properties and the economy is a top priority for many communities.

Nature-based solutions . . . enlist natural features and processes in efforts to combat climate change, reduce flood risks, improve water quality, protect coastal property, restore and protect wetlands, stabilize shorelines, reduce urban heat, add recreational space, and more.”