Azo Dye Test: A Guide to Compliance for Importers

Certain consumer products need to be tested for chemicals to ensure safety as they could be harmful to human health and the environment.

Azo dyes are major colorants used in the textile industry and products need to be tested to determine whether they contain any before they get imported to certain countries.

They are a large group of synthetic organic dyes that contain nitrogen and azo dyes and are used in things like fibres, leathers, plastics, papers, hair mineral oils, waxes, food stuffs and cosmetics.

Why Azo Dyes Are Banned

Azo dyes can be considered a risk to humans as they can contain nitrogen-nitrogen double bonds. The state of California (CA Prop 65) and the European Union have banned several aromatic amines which have been classified as carcinogenic. They reason is they can be liberated as their parent azo dyes undergo cleavage caused by a raised pH. Some acid dyes used to tone leather are synthesised using one or more of the banned amines and can be converted back to free amines by perspiration.

These types of dyes can not only be dangerous to human health but also the environment. The waste water from the factory after the product has been manufactured will bio-accumulate.

Are Azo Dyes Harmful?

Because azo dyes are used in many consumer goods as colourants, they can cause harm by coming into contact with human skin. They are used in items such as apparel, leather, textiles, cosmetics and food. Some of these are considered as carcinogens which is why many markets across the world have banned them. This is why you need to be aware as an importer in order to comply with local regulations.

Are Azo Dyes Banned in the US?

Yes. The US is on the list of countries to have banned azo dyes from their markets. Others across the globe include the EU and Australia. In Asia, the list includes China, India, Japan and Vietnam.

However, although the use of azo dyes has been regulated in certain countries, many of the nations producing them haven’t enforced any rules. That means they are still a problem to human health and wellbeing as well as the environment in some places where the goods concerned are produced.

How is Azo Dye Prepared?

Azo dyes tend to be produced in developing countries such as China India and Korea. They are used to dye many types of fibres – natural, artificial and synthetic – to colour them. They are used because they make it easier to dye things such as cloth at lower temperatures and offer a wide range of colours. They are also longer lasting and won’t easily run in the wash meaning a better investment for both the manufacturer and consumer.

Other Chemical Testing Items

Consumer goods are subject to various legal regulations and standards across the world. While they are designed to help ensure the safety of the consumer, they can be confusing and hard to keep abreast of. You can rely on the expertise and technical resources of HQTS to help ensure your compliance with relevant regulations, as well as your own technical specifications.

As well as azo dyes, we test for range of chemical items including the below list:


  • Allergenic disperse dyes
  • Carcinogenic dyes
  • Heavy metal
  • Formaldehydes
  • Phenols
  • PH
  • Pesticides
  • Phthalate
  • Flame retardants
  • PEoA/PFoS


Wherever you are shipping goods to, HQTS is your one-stop service for all your testing needs to ensure compliance. Contact us today by emailing inquiry@hqts.com to ask about our product testing services and ensure your compliance.

About HQTS

With over 25 years of experience in quality assurance, HQTS is ready to help your import and export business build a robust quality assurance plan. Our many service locations are prepared to be your one-stop-shop for inspection needs. Including, production monitoring, pre-shipment and sorting inspections and everything in between. Contact us today to find out how we can help you navigate your current quality control challenges.

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