Glossary

Here is an encyclopaedia for terms related to chemicals in fashion. It will be updated regularly. For any terms you don’t see which you think should be added please contact us

Allergy — Allergies, also known as allergic diseases, are a number of conditions caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to typically harmless substances in the environment. These diseases include hay fever, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, allergic asthma, and anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include red eyes, an itchy rash, sneezing, a runny nose, shortness of breath, or swelling.

Body Burden — (Chemical) Body burden is the term for the concentration (or amount) of chemical in the body at any given time, and the biological half-life of a chemical is the time required to reduce the concentration of the chemical in the body by one-half, in the absence of further intake. These chemicals reside in our body fat and organs, after being taken in through either the skin, digestion, or the lungs.

Certification — Certifications are created by (usually) independent bodies/organisations. Typically a set of standards to adhere by to achieve a shared goal, such as less toxic chemicals used in production. 

Chemical — Everything is made up of chemicals. A chemical is any substance consisting of matter. This includes any liquid, solid, or gas. A chemical is any pure substance (an element) or any mixture (a solution, compound, or gas).

Dermatitis — a medical condition in which the skin becomes red, swollen, and sore, sometimes with small blisters, resulting from direct irritation of the skin by an external agent or an allergic reaction to it.

Disperse Dyes — Water-insoluble synthetic dyes which are the only dyes which can be used for polyester and acetate 

Formaldehyde — A naturally occurring chemical compound which is also industrially produced in copious amounts due to its malleability. for a variety of uses including, but not limited to, pesticides, consumer products, construction, and healthcare. It has however, been described by many as a human carcinogen chemical by various medical bodies, including the US National Toxicology Program.

Industrial Chemicals — Chemicals developed or manufactured for use in industrial operations or research by industry, government, or academia.

Natural fibres — Materials produced for clothing that come from the naturally occurring fibres of animals and plants. Some examples include hemp, linen, silk, and cashmere.

Organic — farming of any type of plant without the use of industrial chemicals, including, but not limited to, pesticides and fertilisers. 

Pesticides — a chemical solution used to kill insects and other organisms which hinder or halt plant growth. 

PFCs — a collection of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Typically used in fashion for outdoor clothing. 

Porous — something which has many pores, small holes which liquids and air/gases can pass through. For example, human skin is porous. 

Synthetic fibres — Materials which have been manufactured using chemical synthesis in factories. Some examples include, spandex, rayon, polyester, nylon,  and kevlar.