- BRUSSELS - The European Union is preparing to ban around 300 textile dyes
containing chemicals known to increase the risk of cancer, industry sources
said on Tuesday.
- Following pressure from Germany, the
European Commission will soon put forward plans to ban dyes containing
significant levels of 22 so-called aromatic amines, nitrogen-based chemicals
known to be carcinogenic.
- "Consumer exposure to these dyes
is very small," said Eric Clarke, executive director of ETAD, the
Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers.
- "But we've always encouraged our
members to seek safer alternatives, and we don't want to continue to support
the marketing of carcinogens," he added.
- The planned legislation would cover textiles
and leather goods having "more than temporary contact with the skin,"
including clothing, bedding, gloves and chair covers.
- Research has shown that consumers may
run an increased risk of suffering cancer through wearing clothes coloured
with dyes containing aromatic amines. Clarke estimated around 300 dyes
would be covered by the ban.
- But the final adoption of the proposal,
which would need the support of EU governments and the European Parliament
before becoming law, may be delayed because of the current political situation
in Brussels, where the executive Commission resigned en masse last month
following accusations of cronyism.
- Clarke said that EU-based clothes manufacturers
had largely phased out the use of the most dangerous dyes, though they
may still be used in the EU, particularly in imported clothes. The ban
is likely to have the greatest effect on small companies in developing
- The proposals are part of an effort to
harmonise regulations in the EU's single market. Some countries, notably
Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, already have wide-ranging domestic
restrictions in place.