Identify and avoid hidden pollutants in textiles

Identify and avoid hidden harmful substances in textiles

Recognizing and avoiding hidden harmful substances in textiles

Every day, our skin comes into contact with textiles almost non-stop. Whether it's clothing, towels or bed linen – their quality influences our health. Harmful substances in textiles are of particular concern. Although toxic chemical substances are banned. Nevertheless, consumer tests repeatedly show that unhealthy ingredients in clothing& Co. are found. How does the? And how to avoid buying textiles that are hazardous to health?

25.04.2022, 08:20

Why textiles can be toxic?

Anyone who snuggles into a cozy bed in the evening and feels wonderfully soft bed linen on their skin wants to enjoy healthy sleep. Nobody wants chemical residues in pajamas, nightgowns and comforter covers. Trust and safety in healthy textiles are important. The modern clothing and textile industry unfortunately has many points of contact with the chemical industry. Desired textile properties can easily be made possible with the use of chemicals. These include softeners for functional clothing, wrinkle-resistant properties with the help of substances containing formaldehyde, or biocides for antibacterial clothing. Such toxins affect the hormone balance, trigger allergies or are carcinogenic. Of course, EU legislation prohibits such chemicals in textiles. To protect the safety of citizens, there is the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Here, all companies must declare if they manufacture or sell products containing hazardous chemicals in the European Union.

Healthy textiles – much depends on care by manufacturers

However, companies themselves must demonstrate how they protect the environment and people from hazardous ingredients. This is only possible if they are aware of the production conditions throughout the supply chain. However, even a white shirt has gone through 140 individual production steps. This is usually associated with a journey across the globe. Raw materials have to be produced, cleaned, dyed, and processing often takes place in several countries outside the European Union – for example, Asia or Latin America. There is not always an exact overview of what exactly happens in far away countries with other laws. So there are gaps in the review.

Textile seal and voluntary textile alliance

In order to improve the situation overall, the "Alliance for Sustainable Textiles" was founded in Germany a few years ago. This includes the federal government, trade unions, companies and testing institutes. Networking them to raise safety standards. Improve conditions for textile production abroad. To help consumers find their way around, there are many textile labels. They indicate whether textiles have been tested for harmful substances and whether the supply and production chains consistently operate without hazardous chemicals. To compare textile seals, the German government has launched the "Siegelklarheit" website.

How to buy healthy textiles successfully

To guide consumers when shopping, these tips will help:

1. Sniff the textiles before you buy them. If they smell strongly of chemicals, there are some in them. Healthy textiles have no chemical smell.

2. Pay attention to the country of manufacture. It is displayed on the white label. If there are descriptions like "Made in Germany", the textiles are really produced here locally according to valid laws. 3. Note the textile seal. Typical seals are OEKO TEX Standard 100 for tested freedom from harmful substances. OEKO TEX Made in Green for supply chains without unhealthy chemicals. Note the textile seal. Typical seals are OEKO TEX Standard 100 for tested freedom from harmful substances. OEKO TEX Made in Green for supply chains without unhealthy chemicals. Typical seals are OEKO TEX Standard 100 for tested freedom from harmful substances. OEKO TEX Made in Green for supply chains without unhealthy chemicals.

Check consumer tests. They regularly show if unhealthy textiles have been discovered and which ones are recommendable.

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