Tomaz Levstek,

ScienceShot: Formaldehyde in Clothing Nothing to Sneeze At

You can cross one item off your worry list: the amount of formaldehyde in your clothes. Used since the 1920s to reduce wrinkles, formaldehyde is known to cause allergic skin reactions in some people. But in a study released this summer by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, researchers tested 180 random articles of clothing for formaldehyde content. They found that less than 2% of the items contained more than 100 parts per million of the chemical—300 ppm is considered enough to induce allergic reactions—and most of the items registered less than 20 ppm. The results represent a significant reduction since 1984, when a previous study showed that more than 67% of clothing tested above 100 ppm. Now if they could just do something about underarm stains.

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