EC Takes Further Action Against Hazardous Chemicals In Textiles

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On 26 April 2018, the European Commission received backing from the EU's REACH Committee to take further action against hazardous chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive health problems.

In this connection, the Commission has proposed a measure to extend prohibitions against certain substances. Once the measure is implemented, it will be prohibited to place clothing and related articles, other textiles, and footwear containing the listed substances on the EU market, regardless of where they originate.

The substances thus far restricted in articles under the REACH Regulation include – among several others – phthalates, azodyes, cadmium, nickel, mercury and lead.

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The current proposal will amend Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation in order to provide greater protection against 33 CMR chemicals used in clothing, textiles and footwear. These products are believed likely to feature in the prohibited chemicals either as residues from the production process or as additives which offer specific properties such as shrinkage-prevention or crease-resistance. Such chemicals may, moreover, present a greater risk to the consumer through skin contact, inhalation or ingestion of dust particles and textile fibres.

Concrete examples of articles intended to be covered include underwear, nightwear, swimwear, garments, scarves, ties, handkerchiefs, hats, gloves, socks and certain footwear, as well as tablemats, tablecloths, towels, bed linen and pillow cases. The substances (and/or their compounds) to be restricted include Cadmium, Chromium VI, Arsenic, Lead, Benzene, Form aldehyde, and certain phthalates. 

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A large majority of the REACH Committee supported the proposal, which will now be scrutinised by the European Parliament and Council. Afterwards, it will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and become applicable in the 24 months that follow.

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