Twenty leading fashion brands are selling clothing contaminated with chemicals with hormone-disrupting or cancer-causing properties when released into the environment, according to Greenpeace International.

The pressure group’s report, Toxic Threads – The Big Fashion Stitch-up, results from tests on 141 clothing items and claims to expose links between manufacturing plants using hazardous chemicals and their presence in consumer products.

Greenpeace said that all of the brands tested had at least several items containing NPEs, which it says break down into hormone-disrupting chemicals.

The highest concentrations, it added, were found in clothing from Zara, Metersbonwe, Levi’s, C&A, Mango, Calvin Klein, Jack & Jones and Marks & Spencer.

Clothing items tested included jeans, trousers, t-shirts, dresses and underwear designed for men, women and children, and made from natural and artificial fibres.

Other identified chemicals included “high levels” of toxic phthalates in four of the products, and traces of a cancer-causing amine from the use of certain azo dyes in two products from Zara.

Greenpeace detox campaign co-ordinator Martin Hojsik called on Zara to “take the lead and take urgent, ambitious and transparent action to detox their clothes and supply chain”.

Meanwhile, Yifang Li, senior toxics campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, accused the brands named of “turning us all into fashion victims” and contributing to toxic water pollution around the world, when the clothes were both manufactured and washed.

The group called on fashion brands to commit to zero discharge of all hazardous chemicals by 2020 – a commitment already made by companies including M&S and H&M.

The release of the new report follows the publication last year of Greenpeace’s Dirty Laundry report, which found toxic chemicals in waste water discharges from two textile processing facilities in China supplying global apparel firms.

The report prompted companies including Adidas, C&A, H&M, Li Ning, Nike and Puma to join forces in facing what Greenpeace called the “Detox challenge”.