1. Abstract

Often people ask about the metal content of Reactive dyes. The following question comes from different sources but all on the same theme, and can therefore be grouped together. They come from Reactive dyestuff suppliers in India and Thailand, and a Cellulosic Knit Dyehouse in Turkey.

We have been asked by customers whether or not our reactive dyes contain heavy metals. To what extent can heavy metals be found in dyestuffs and to what extent are they permitted?

All major retailers must have specifications for maximum permissible content of toxic materials in their garments. Is there any variation from one retailer to another? And what sort of practical maximum values should have no impact on human health?

2. Full Article

2.1 The Answer

There are a number of requirements or legislations which are closely related:

  • Health and Safety at Work

  • Environmental Impact

  • and Ethical Clothing.

So far as reactive dyes are concerned, H&S requires that manual operatives must not be exposed to any materials which are:

  • Carcinogenic
  • Mutagenic
  • Toxic
  • Dusty (and could lead to breathing and asthmatic and allergy problems).

Toxicity and Mutagenicity cover a wide range of properties and constituents. Heavy Metal content is just one of them. Permitted levels will vary from one local Health authority to another. In Italy, for example, the requirements are set by the local USSL authority, and the requirements can even vary for neighbouring USSLs.

The requirements cover:

  • the manufacture and handling of dyestuffs (and appropriate intermediates)
  • dyestuff impurities produced in manufacture
  • the application of dyestuffs
  • the discharge of effluent resulting from the use of the dyestuffs
  • compounds residual of dyed and finished textiles
  • the labelling of garments on sale to consumers.