France: Agency Warns of Allergens in Shoes and Clothing

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has examined 25 articles of clothing and 14 different pairs of shoes. It found 20 potential allergens in the clothing and as many as 50 in the shoes, including formaldehyde and heavy metals. The Agency published its findings in a press release (only in French).

The Agency acts in the service of French ministries and should determine the toxicity of chemicals, particularly in terms of their potential to trigger allergies and possible skin irritations. The results should support a request from France and Sweden to capture chemicals that irritate the skin in clothing and shoes in REACH and limit their use more strictly.

In the clothing, the Agency found chemicals including nonylphenols (NPs), nonylphenolethoxylates, and formaldehyde. Some of the samples studied even contained chemicals like 1.4-paraphenylenediamine (PPD), organotin derivatives, or azo dyes that could trigger contact dermatitis. Every fifth article of clothing contained PPD, and some also contained lead and mercury.

ANSES recommends that other official agencies:

  • Control footwear and clothing placed on the market to avoid the presence of illegal substances
  • Strength the threshold for chromium VI in leather goods
  • Set a threshold for nickel in textiles
  • Suggest a classification under the CLP Regulation for unregulated substances that have been identified as skin irritants

So far, no toxicological data exists for the dyes Disperse Orange 37/76 and Disperse Yellow 23. ANSES therefore calls for undertaking the appropriate studies.

ANSES also calls on retailers to work with vendors to check for and avoid the presence of carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMR) substances and skin irritants. It also urges the creation of an information system that warns consumers about the presence of such chemicals.

The important tip for consumers is that they always wash new clothing before they wear it for the first time. Nonylphenoles can be removed in this manner, says ANSES. You can download the RAPEX annual report 2017. The EU is publishing news weekly.

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