Environmentally hazardous substance found in home textile products

Photo of a child sleeping in a bed.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has examined the content of hazardous substances in 167 home textile products such as duvet covers, towels and blankets. Almost one tenth of the soft furnishings contained an environmentally hazardous substance which will be prohibited in 2021. A pillow cover also contained a prohibited dye.

“Several of the home textiles we have checked contain nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates, which the EU has decided to prohibit. Until the prohibition enters into force, it is important that companies work towards eliminating the substances from manufacturing and from their textile goods,” says Amanda Rosen, Inspector at the Swedish Chemicals Agency.

In the enforcement project, the Swedish Chemicals Agency has examined a total of 167 goods from 51 companies. The project has focused on home textiles which are common in the home environment of children. Of the checked home textile products, 16 contained nonylphenol ethoxylates in levels above 0.01 percentage by weight. This does not entail any breach of law, but the samples would not be acceptable in accordance with the restriction which will enter into force within the EU on 3 February 2021.

Nonylphenol ethoxylates are broken down in nature to the endocrine disrupting substance nonylphenol, which is toxic for fish and other aquatic organisms. The EU’s decision on a prohibition of the substance in home textile products was issued following a proposal from Sweden.

One of the 167 home textile products analysed in the project contained prohibited levels of a substance which has been banned for a long time. A pillow cover contained benzidine, which is a decomposition product of an azo dye. When azo dyes break down, they can form aromatic amines and some of these are considered to be carcinogenic. Some can cause allergies during skin contact and they can also be toxic for aquatic organisms.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has reported the company which sold the pillow cover to prosecutors for suspicion of environmental offence. The company has stopped selling the pillow cover and has started work on developing procedures to ensure that in the future the goods fulfil the chemical requirements in the legislation.

“Our enforcement project indicates that the occurrence of azo dyes in bedding and towels is not a particularly widespread problem in the Swedish market,” says Amanda Rosen.

For more information, please feel free to contact:

Amanda Rosen, Inspector, +46 8 519 41 279

Marcus Hagberg, Inspector, +46 8 519 41 159

The Swedish Chemicals Agency’s press service, +46 8 519 41 200, press@kemi.se

E-mail addresses of the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s employees are written as follows: firstname.surname@kemi.se