France and Sweden Want to Ban Allergens in Textiles

The French Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Health and Safety (Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail: ANSES) and the Swedish Chemical Oversight Agency, KEMI, have proposed that the ECHA ban or at least sharply limit skin sensitizers that can be contained in textiles, leather, furs, and skins. The proposal means that all substances classified as skin sensitizers according to the CLP regulation would be affected.

ANSES indicates that more than 1,000 substances would be involved. As part of a study, the Agency has already identified the chemicals. The Swedish KEMI had co-directed the risk management option analysis (RMOA).

In their Annex XV Restriction Report, the authors propose the following thresholds (among others):

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

As stated in the ANSES press release (French only), alternatives already exist, especially for disperse dyes. The use of diisocyanates can also be avoided without any technical production problems.

The numbers show the value of the proposed restrictions. An estimated four to five million EU citizens are already allergic to chemicals contained in textiles and leather. According to a KEMI press release (Swedish only) some 45,000 to 180,000 additional persons come down with such allergies every year.

The ECHA will introduce a public consultation on the proposal from the two countries in the coming weeks. Afterwards, the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and the Socio-Economic Analysis Committee (SEAC) will develop an opinion on the proposal. The EU will then use the opinion to decide on incorporating the proposal into Annex XVII of REACH.

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