Textiles: the chemical substances in the world around us

In the context of the LIFE AskREACH project and of its mission to bolster the REACH regulation, Ineris helps to raise the awareness of businesses and consumers about substances of very high concern.

Which articles are concerned?

In the textile manufacturing industry, chemical substances can provide solutions that meet expectations in terms of design and use. However, these technological benefits or uses can have a downside and in fact have damaging effects on our health and the environment.

We come into contact with different types of textiles on a daily basis: clothing, bed sheets, furnishings, towels, etc. They can contain substances of very high concern (SVHC). These objects are therefore subject to article 33 of the European Reach regulation.

Why are SVHCs present in textile articles?

These chemical substances are used in the manufacture of textiles in order to give the article a certain effect, to improve its appearance and/or practicability, such as making the textile more resistant (to water, folding, stains), or to give it colour. Some of these substances can be harmful to our health and the environment in the long term:

Phthalates are used to make plastics such as polyester more flexible and are especially common in pictures and writing printed onto fabrics.
Formaldehyde contributes to making clothes crease-proof, durable and water-proof.
PFASs (perfluorinated compounds) are surfactants that protect the fibres from grease and water, make them easier to clean and enable the production of water-proof fabrics.
Alkylphenols are frequently used and contain nonylphenols. They can be found in washing and dying procedures.

Is it inevitable?

It is possible to reduce the danger. REACH regulates the use of chemical substances and prohibits the most dangerous substances. Ineris helps businesses to apply the regulation, but also tackles issues of substitution.

Consumers can make enquiries in order to be able to make knowledgeable purchases.
It is possible for consumers to find out about the articles they wish to purchase and thus shop knowledgeably. This can be done simply and free of charge with the Scan4Chem app which scans barcodes and questions the brands about the presence of SVHCs in the objects you use daily.

> To find out more: https://chemicalsinourlife.echa.europa.eu/fr/clothes-and-textiles