Sweden and France Proposed Ban on Allergenic Substances in Textiles and Leather Products

Sweden and France have proposed an EU ban on more than a thousand allergenic substances used in items such as clothing and shoes. According to the proposal, textile and leather items sold to consumers should not contain these substances at levels above certain content thresholds.

The joint initiative includes all substances classified as skin sensitizers under the CLP Regulation and 25 substances of the family of disperse dyes with sensitizing properties.

Ahead of the proposal, the French Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) conducted a study to identify substances present in specific articles. The Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI) carried out an analysis of risk management options under REACH on skin sensitizers in textiles.

The two agencies propose to limit the concentration of sensitizing substances under REACH to the following thresholds:

  • 1mg/kg for chromium VI compounds (textiles, leather, furs, and skins)
  • 130mg/kg (textiles) and 110mg/kg (leather, furs and skins) for nickel and its compounds
  • 70mg/kg (textiles) and 60mg/kg (leather, furs and skins) for cobalt and its compounds
  • 75mg/kg for formaldehyde (textiles, leather, furs, and skins);
  • 250mg/kg (textiles) and 210mg/kg (leather, furs and skins) for 1,4 paraphenylenediamine
  • 130mg/kg (textiles) and 110mg/kg (leather, furs, and skins) for other substances classified as skin sensitizers

Kemi and ANSES estimate that four to five million EU citizens have allergies to chemicals that are present in textiles and leather. Experts forecast that between 45,000 and 180,000 people in the Union develop an allergy to these chemicals every year.

The EU Chemical Agency (ECHA) is expected to start a public consultation on the restriction proposal in June to run for a 6-month period, ANSES said. After that, ECHA’s Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) Committees will use the data to formulate an opinion which will assist the European Commission in the final decision regarding the adoption of this restriction.

If adopted, it will be included in REACH Annex XVII and made mandatory for textiles, hides, furs, and skins placed on the market in Europe.