Health or Harm: What’s in Your Workout Bands?

[UPDATED] By Lily Moser

Are you working towards better health, well-being, or major muscle gains? If so, you’re most likely acquainted with workout bands: the light-weight, easy-to-use, strength-building workout tool. But what many people might not know is that there are hidden toxic chemicals in some of these bands that could harm your health as you use these products to up your fitness game.

The Center for Environmental Health’s (CEH) testing has shown that popular workout brands such as Adidas, Go Fit, and AmazonBasics have been selling latex workout bands that contain cancer-causing nitrosamines as a result of their latex processing. Last spring, CEH initiated legal action against 15 companies that sell latex workout bands.

These chemicals were found in workout bands at up to 6,000 times the levels of the nitrosamines, NDEA and NDMA, allowed under California law. Moreover, the product manufacturers did not warn consumers about possible nitrosamine exposure from using the product. Nitrosamines have the potential to wreak havoc on many of our vital organs, and are known to cause cancer in organs and tissues including the lungs, brain, liver, kidneys, bladder, stomach, esophagus, and sinuses*.

Nitrosamines are found in these workout bands because of the curing process – or the process of turning rubber into durable latex – but not all latex bands contain nitrosamines, and latex can be produced without these toxic chemicals. A recent study published in the International Journal for Scientific Research and Development examined nitrosamine-producing accelerators used in rubber curing. The authors found that there are available alternatives for manufacturers to use to reformulate their products.

The Center for Environmental Health continues its legal efforts to force these companies to reformulate their products, leaving consumers with a safer, healthier workout band.

Litigation to make these products safer can be a lengthy process, and many people want to know what they should do in the meantime. For now, CEH recommends using fabric-covered resistance bands or resistance bands with handles attached which help to limit direct skin exposure to latex materials. Remember to wash your hands after using latex workout bands to reduce your exposure to nitrosamines.

The following companies have reached legal agreements with CEH and will be required to remove NDEA and NDMA from their latex workout bands: Endurance Brands; Evriholder Products, LLC; Gymshark USA, Inc.; and Urban Outfitters Wholesale, Inc. Stay tuned for updates on the dates by which each company will be required to have safer products on store shelves.


April 15, 2021

Workout bands have become an everyday necessity to the quarantine workout lifestyle. They are easy to use, lightweight, effective, and apparently, chemically toxic. Recent testing has shown that popular workout brands such as Adidas, Go Fit, and AmazonBasics have been selling products that have cancer-causing nitrosamines as a result of their latex processing. With the products’ increasing popularity, it is quite concerning that a tool oriented at helping your health could be harming you. 

Nitrosamines are by no means a “new” occurrence. Nitrosamine contamination of latex products is well known; for example, a 2019 study showed that latex gloves used posed significant exposure to nitrosamines. New testing, conducted by the Center for Environmental Health, found that these nine latex workout bands contain up to 6,000 times the levels allowed under California law without a warning. These chemicals have the potential to wreak havoc on your lungs, liver, kidney, bladder, stomach, esophagus, nasal sinuses, and even your brain. After this discovery, the Center for Environmental health filed notices against the corporations to remedy the situation or face legal action. 

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting families and communities from harmful chemicals. Emily Reder, the Research Manager at CEH who led the testing says, “as someone who uses resistance bands, this issue is personal. No one should be exposed to carcinogenic chemicals, especially from products marketed to help improve your health”. 

Given the dangerous potential of these products, it is imperative that companies disclose the chemical dangers to those purchasing. Under California’s Proposition 65, companies are required to warn consumers when they are facing such impactful health threats. The companies are then required to produce comprehensive labeling and disclosure to their customers. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, by holding companies accountable, Proposition 65 aims to incentivize corporations to limit the number of toxins throughout their products. The law serves as an alarm bell, triggering action on hazardous substances in our food, air, water, and the products we use every day.

Workout bands are just one example of the toxic exposure dangers all around us. Fortunately, Prop 65 provides a pathway for protection.