EU Prepares To Ban Clothes
Dyes Due To Cancer Risk
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 countries.
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.