By: Wasif A.I. and Chinta S. K

There is no doubt that the impact of industrialization on environment is far reaching and even disturbing. The three basic requirements of human beings are food, clothing and shelter. Human activities for these requirements more or less disturb the ecological balance.

The toxic effects of chemicals and physical agents on living organisms and their interactions with the environment lead to phenomenon like acid rains, depletion of ozone layer and global worming due to green house effect.

Ecology is the study of interactions between living organisms and their environment, which includes atmospheres, water and pollutants.

The main raw materials used in the textile industry are the textile fibres, which are spun into yarns, which, in turn, are woven into fabrics. They are further processed to get bleached, dyed / printed or finished before introduced into the consumer market. The textile industry consumes substantial volumes of water and chemicals for wet processing of textiles. The chemical reagents used by the dye house are very diverse in chemical composition, ranging from inorganic compounds and elements of polymers and organic products.

About 50% of the textile mills are using approximately 200-300 litres of water per Kg of fabric produced while about 20% of the mills are using below 200 litres of water per kg of cloth depending on the process sequence and water utilization practices adopted in the mill. Water pollution by the textile mills in mainly attributable to various waste liquor coming out of the unit operations in wet processing such as desizing, scouring, bleaching, mercerizing, dyeing, printing and finishing.

Adverse effects of textile waste

  • The waste water discharged by textile mills is of highly alkaline nature, which adversely affects the aquatic life.
  • The toxic chemicals like sulphides, chlorine, chrome and aniline dyes also affect aquatic life.
  • The textile water is discharged in the server line, which gets corroded due to presence of sulphur dyes and sulphur compounds in the effluent.
  • The municipal sewage if exposed to acid and hydrogen/sulphides, will result in rustication of pipelines.

With respect to ecology and testing, the following three aspects should be considered.

1.    Production Ecology

  1. Comprising
  2. Cultivation and harvesting of natural fibres
  3. Manufacture of man made fibres
  4. Manufacture of threads and fabrics
  5. Bleaching, dyeing, printing and finishing of textiles, and
  6. Garments manufacture, with the application of fertilizers, growth, regulators, pesticides, dyes, pigments, and textile chemicals auxiliaries and finishing agents.

2.    User Ecology - referring to the effect of clothing textiles and the substances that give them their beauty and performance characteristic on human beings during use i.e. when the clothing is worm.

3.    Disposal Ecology - referring to the disposal of the textiles after use i.e. recycling, composting, dumping or incinerating in a manner that ensures the least possible environmental impact.