The Swedish Chemicals Agency has identified hazardous chemicals that may be found in clothing and textiles in our indoor environment.
The consumption of textile articles has increased. High consumption of articles also means increased use of chemicals and raw materials. Within the EU, we consume about 19 kilograms of textiles per person every year. In Sweden, the figure is 14 kilograms.
To make textiles, large amounts of chemicals are used. To produce one kilogram of material for t-shirts, about 3 kilos of chemicals are needed. Some chemicals remain in the final product, for example dyes. Chemicals can also be applied to achieve specific functions, e.g. prevent textiles from becoming damaged by moisture during transport or to prevent them from smelling.
An increased use of antibacterial agents, for example in sports clothing and in shoes, might increase the risk of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
- Only a few substances in textiles are regulated and we think that the regulations need to be developed. In many cases there is a lack of knowledge about chemical substances in textiles and the transfer of information in the supply chains need to be improved, says Susan Strömbom at the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
More than 10 percent of the substances we identified are considered to be of potential concern for human health. These include certain substances that can cause allergies, e.g. dyes.
- In the study we saw that many dyes can cause allergies, most of them are not included in the tests that are used to find the cause of allergy, says Susan Strömbom.
Approximately 5 percent of the substances that we identified are expected to have a very harmful impact on the environment.