EU steps up action against hazardous chemicals in clothing

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The European Commission has taken another important step to protect EU consumers from hazardous substances in frequent contact with human skin, which are known to cause cancer and reproductive health problems. A restriction limiting consumers' exposure to 33 carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction chemicals has come into effect from November 1.

The new restriction will ensure that "everyday clothing, textiles and footware bought by Europeans are safer, no matter which EU country they shop in and whether the products are EU-made or imported," the European Commission said in a statement.

“The health and well-being of our citizens is of paramount importance, now more than ever. The Commission is continuously ensuring the safety of chemicals used in everyday products and is today restricting the use of 33 dangerous substances in textiles and footware. The restriction is the result of good cooperation between the Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the chemical and textile industries, NGOs and medical specialists aiming to ensure the safety of these products for our citizens,” said Commissioner Thierry Breton, responsible for the Internal Market.

The restriction specifies maximum concentration limits established for individual substances or groups of substances potentially present in these products, including for substances such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cadmium, chromium, lead and its compounds and phthalates, among others. It also contributes to reducing the environmental emissions of these hazardous substances, which can occur for example during washing, and enhance the quality of recycled textile materials. The restriction is based on the EU's REACH Regulation, which provides the world's highest protection of human health and the environment.