By: Moustafa S. Moussa

Textile processing industry is characterized not only by the large volume of water required for various unit operations but also by the variety of chemicals used for various processes. There is a long sequence of wet processing stages requiring inputs of water, chemical & energy and generating wastes at each stage. The other feature of this industry, which is a backbone of fashion garments is large variation in demand of type, pattern and color combination of fabric resulting into significant fluctuation in waste generation volume and load. Textile processing generates many waste streams, including liquid, gaseous and solid wastes, some of which may be hazardous. The nature of the waste generated depends on the type of textile facility, the processes and technologies being operated, and the types of fibers and chemicals used. The overview on the amounts of waste generated within the textile processes are summarized on Table 1.

Air Pollution

Most processes performed in textile mills produce atmospheric emissions. Gaseous emissions have been identified as the second greatest pollution problem (after effluent quality) for the textile industry. Speculation concerning the amounts and types of air pollutants emitted from textile operations has been widespread but, generally, air emission data for textile manufacturing operations are not readily available.

Air pollution is the most difficult type of pollution to sample, test, and quantify in an audit. Air emissions can be classified according to the nature of their sources:

Point sources:

  • Boilers
  • Ovens
  • Storage tanks


  • Solvent-based
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Warehouses
  • Spills

Textile mills usually generate nitrogen and sulphur oxides from boilers Other significant sources of air emissions in textile operations include resin finishing and drying operations, printing, dyeing, fabric preparation, and wastewater treatment plants. Hydrocarbons are emitted from drying ovens and from mineral oils in high-temperature drying/curing.

These processes can emit formaldehyde, acids, softeners, and other volatile compounds. Residues from fiber preparation sometimes emit pollutants during heat setting processes.

Carriers and solvents may be emitted during dyeing operations (depending on the types of dyeing processes used and from wastewater treatment plant operations. Carriers used in batch dyeing of disperse dyes may lead to volatilization of aqueous chemical emulsions during heat setting, drying, or curing stages. Acetic acid and formaldehyde are two major emissions of concern in textiles.

The major sources of air pollution in the textile industry are summarized on Table 2.