Is synthetic sports apparel safe to wear in active play?

You may be surprised to learn the limitations of how they are tested.
European Union regulatory system currently fails to take into account the chemical cocktail effect to which we are exposed when accessing the safety of chemicals, as it is mainly done based on a single substance approach.

Active play is where your skin interacts with chemical cocktail through friction and sweating.

For example polyester moisture-wicking anti-bacterial sports apparel uses a combination of chemicals. Consumers are left out of who should know the list of chemicals used.

No tests by any regulatory authority are currently performed on the chemical cocktail.
Your synthetic sportswear is untested to ascertain the level of toxicity from the chemical cocktail.
How do they get away with it?



We like using circular logos on golf balls. We are experimenting with our new 2013 spiral ball. The circle here looks too large in diameter and I prefer the lower case ‘r’ we used on the original black golf ball rather than the capital ‘R’ taken from our ‘square peg in a round hole’ graphic.

It is traditional to use a number on a golf ball, usually a number 1, 2 or 3, all under-par low numbers. But how about using lucky number 7 or even two separate numbers with say a 6 on one side and a 2 on the other to represent a low round of 62?

Straying too far away from tradition can be commercially risky in the very conservative circles of golf.




We’ve been trying to think of a phrase to capture the essence of modern quick-drying polyester sportswear. This should cover it.



Our predictable predictions for golf in 2013?

Rory will play well.
Poulter will wear his own clothes.
Miss Nicollet will look gorgeous strolling down the fairways.
Daly will be fined for being John Daly.
Tiger will hit wayward drives.
Golf Refugees will sign a tour pro.

Ok the last one's maybe a long shot.


Accentuate Your Style
Alongside bold reds, pinks and prints there has been an upsurge of interest in rich navy blues and luxurious black, seen primarily in jumpers, cardigans and accent pieces like socks or scarves. Women’s golfing clothing has clearly been taking a leaf out of couture’s own book, because the very same colours have already been marked as hot for SS 2013.
Couture Inspiration
Designers such as Nasir Mazhar and Roksanda Ilincic made great use of both red and blue in their 2013 collections, whilst Emilio De La Morena had clearly taken inspiration from the golfing greens themselves, as her collection featured classic block patterns and heritage colours as well as brassy reds, loud oranges and clean cut whites.
Looking Great on the Green
Women’s golf clothing hasn’t always been so stylish, so ladies everywhere must be breathing a sigh of relief that sport has finally caught up with style when it comes to women’s golfing attire. Although top designers have been creating women’s golfing clothing for years – such as Ralph Lauren’s ubiquitous polo shirts – it finally seems that women have an affordable way to both look and play their best.



If you were asked to name a luxury brand who would you say? Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Ralph Loren etc
What constitutes a luxury brand fit the 21 st Century? Visual elegance, attention to detail, use of expensive materials?
Could these brands be re-categorised as ‘luxury veneer’? Where if you look below the superficial surface you’ll find a similarity with ‘common brands’ who manufacture with a blind-eye to ethical standards and pollution.
Will future ‘real luxury’ brands offer new ethical values and products designed with a ‘cradle to grave philosophy’ and where materials are sourced upon their sustainability?

"Fashion is a logical place to start to raise awareness for sustainable causes" said Jochen Zeitz, who was formerly head of Puma and is now director of PPR, the French luxury group, and chairman of the boards sustainable development committee. "We should bring an environmental attitude, and I think luxury should automatically be about sustainability and quality."

Richard Branson takes the line that "business needs to move away from a focus on immediate profit to one where it invests and operates for the long-term good of people and the planet."



Graph: levels of extractable lead are indicated in mg/kg

The graph above provides the level of highly toxic heavy metal lead extracted via sweat solution from leading sportswear brands synthetic apparel by scientists working for the European Consumer Organisation.

It’s been a great summer of sport with the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Major sport apparel brands produce stylish apparel and spend millions sponsoring and promoting the benefits of playing sport to everyone. So why do they use highly toxic heavy metals such as lead and other hazardous chemicals? The obvious answer is cost. It may cost them slightly more to find and use safer substances. But what is the human cost to us and their textile workers? Especially when the European Consumer Organisation recommended this summer wearing a natural fibre base-layer underneath any polyester moisture-wicking apparel, to act as a barrier between your sweating skin and any transient toxic chemicals when playing active sport.

Its time for greater transparency where sports brands inform consumers of what ingredients they use. Highly toxic ‘lead’ should not to used in sports apparel, in particular for children whose immune systems are not as robust as adults. Removing toxic lead from all sports apparel would be a good starting point.



Golf Refugees highlights of 2012:

Exposing the toxic heavy metals and chemicals used in moisture-wicking anti-bacterial synthetic sports apparel.
Liaising with European scientists who extracted toxic lead via sweat solutions and other hazardous chemicals from polyester based sports shirts.
Understandably this story has been largely ignored by the golf media.

Providing evidence to Callaway's IP Counsel and lawyers that Golf Refugees designed, wind-tunnel tested and proved the performance benefits of a swept-aerofoil-hosel several years before them.

Speaking with Charley Hull’s dad. A very wise man.

Trying to explain the merits of the original heat-absorbing black golf ball to Sharmila Nicollet at the back of 17th green during the Women’s British Masters.

Face to face with Hee Young Park at the Ricoh British Open, listening to her say “it’s a little bit difficult”.

Watching and talking golf with Danielle only to realise afterwards she’s a top Irish professional golfer.

Meeting Flory’s mum.

Working with David Sziroczak on the spiral golf ball.




These two Golf Refugees 2013 women's polo shirts combine large and small graphic symbols to create a more modern, hi-tech pattern.
Single colour half-combo shirt on the left and multi-coloured full-combo polo on the right. Which do you prefer?
Graphics symbolise the toxic chemicals used to make modern moisture-wicking anti-bacterial polyester sportswear.







Golf Refugees agree with the PGA of America, who are opposed to a proposed ban on players anchoring long putters to their body. Who also feel making golf easier would help grow the game and is ready to resist a possible move to reign in the distance golf balls travel.
"If you do anything that's going to cause the rank and file amateur player to not hit the ball as far, there's no way you're going to enhance their enjoyment of the game," US PGA President Ted Bishop said.

Golf Refugees spent a long time perfecting their broom-handle putter. Not sure what we are going to do with it now. The governing bodies (blazer squads as we like to call them) should not prevent 99% of golfers using the latest technology just to appease the 1% professional players.

It's a tricky one, as sport brands marketing peeps want to be able to say their pros use the same equipment and play the same courses as the rest of us.
No point paying Rory a hundred million plus dollars if you can't reasonably argue he's using same ball, driver etc. Not that he is.



Barry Boyce - We need new ways of thinking to deal with systemic problems like climate change through creating a post-capitalist economy that doesn't depend on unending growth through consumption of finite and depleting resources and a race to the bottom in wages and work standards for its existence.
The starting point for getting to the new is abandoning the idea that simply tweaking capitalism, greening it slightly, even internalizing all the externalities (like carbon pollution) into prices, is enough. We can't do the same old thing, but better.  We have to go beyond the approaches that got us there in the first place.

George Monbiot - N
eoliberalism is not the root of the problem. It is the ideology used, often retrospectively, to justify a global grab of power, public assets and natural resources by an unrestrained elite. But the problem cannot be addressed until the doctrine is challenged by effective political alternatives.
In other words, the struggle against climate change – and all the crises that now beset both human beings and the natural world – cannot be won without a wider political fight: a democratic mobilization against plutocracy. This should start with an effort to reform campaign finance – the means by which corporations and the very rich buy policies and politicians. Some of us will be launching a petition in the UK in the next few weeks, and I hope you will sign it. But this is scarcely a beginning. We must start to articulate a new politics, one that sees intervention as legitimate, that contains a higher purpose than corporate emancipation disguised as market freedom, that puts the survival of people and the living world above the survival of a few favoured industries. In other words, a politics that belongs to us, not just the super-rich.



Designers for sportswear brands can ask chemical companies for detailed information in the form of ‘Material Safety Data Sheets’ (MSDS) with regard to their moisture-wicking apparel finishers for synthetic fabrics such as polyester.
Consumers of sports apparel have no such information when purchasing.
Golf Refugees are the first brand to offer consumers similar detailed information on the toxic chemicals used, you could call it an act of ‘Freedom of Information’. Read it and weep.

Diethylene glycol, methanol, Formaldehyde
Regulatory Information (R-phrases)
R11- Highly flammable.
R40- Limited evidence of a carcinogenic effect.
R39/23/24/25- Toxic by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed.
Danger of very serious irreversible effects through inhalation, in
contact with skin and if swallowed.
R22- Harmful if swallowed.
R34- Causes burns.
R43- May cause sensitisation by skin contact.
F - Highly flammable
Carc. Cat. 3 - Carcinogen category 3
T - Toxic
C - Corrosive
Xn - Harmful

Ingredients; 1,2-Propylene glycol
Regulatory Information (R–phrases)
R43- May cause sensitisation by skin contact.
R52- Harmful to aquatic organisms.
R36/37/38- Irritating to eyes, respiratory system and skin.
Xi - Irritant

It makes you wonder how they get away with it. Using known skin irritant chemicals in consumer sports clothing, where your skin interacts with these toxic chemicals through friction and sweating during active play.






For those with blue eyes and a cheesy grin.



Please read and compare the two lists below.
The one of the left is a list of ingredients used to make moisture-wicking anti-bacterial polyester sportswear. And the one on the right is the information brands supply to consumers.

Lead                                                      Polyester
Nickel                                                    Made in

Chromium                                              (country of origin)
Dibutyltin (DTD)
Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE’s)
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s)

No regulatory body for textiles has ever tested any combination of hazardous heavy metals and chemicals for their toxicity to consumers. They only test metals and chemicals on an individual basis.






This is our 2013 men’s ‘leaded polo shirt’.

Those very helpful scientists at The European Consumer Organisation this summer published a report stating the vast majority of sports shirts tested contained highly toxic lead. This published report also recognised scientists are unable to agree upon a safe level for lead in consumer goods. Lead is a highly toxic metal that is responsible for causing serious health issues during the decades it has been popularly used all over the world, predominately as a fuel additive. In 1996 a decision was taken on health grounds to completely ban leaded petrol. Leaded petrol is not only banned but illegal to sell in many parts of the world. Which begs the question why in 2012, lead is still used in sports apparel?

Are leading sportswear brands; Nike, Adidas, and Puma running scared, hiding behind a wall of silence?

Another report with regard to the Horizon oil spill disaster asked ‘how can 2 million gallons of dispersal chemicals poured on top of an oil slick be a good idea?
To all who understood the chemistry of what was being attempted looked on with reservations? The results of the grand experiment are still coming in as scientists continue to evaluate the health of the Gulf ecosystem in wake of the disaster. Initial tests conducted by the Georgia Institute of technology concluded the approved oil-dispersant mixture to be 52 times more toxic than oil alone. There is currently no requirement to test and compare the toxicity levels of combined mixtures prior to individual chemicals being approved for use.

What the heck has all this got to do with sports apparel? Well, sports apparel is predominantly made using polyester, which is derived from petroleum. A cocktail of addition chemicals are then applied to polyester to make a moisture-wicking anti-bacterial fabric. Golf Refugees research found a leading moisture-wicking-textile-finish included the very same chemical used to disperse the Horizon oil spill disaster. When asked what the purpose for this toxic chemical is for sports wear; ‘it helps to remove stains’. Perhaps they still had a few million gallons of dispersant chemicals lying around and rather than wait for next major oil spill, the chemical industry decided to look for an alternative market. And what better than the millions of petroleum derived sports shirts where non disclosure of chemicals is the accepted practice. Kerching.

The similarities are uncanny. You have a cocktail of chemicals, untested, unregulated in your sports apparel. During manufacture the residue from these chemicals are simply washed away into local rivers, causing widespread pollution. Sportswear brands are creating a chemical pollution disaster.
And let’s not forget the European Consumer Organisation extracted toxic chemicals including lead from sports shirts via a sweat solution. Every time you sweat inside your sports shirt your skin interacts with a cocktail of untested chemicals. How do they get away with it?

Do consumers want to know which toxic chemicals their skin is interacting with?