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California DTSC Seeks Safe Alternatives for Chemicals in Clothing

California’s Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC) will be investigating several product categories, as part of the California Green Chemistry Draft Priority Work Plan, in hopes of finding safer alternatives to the chemicals found in these products over the next three years. Clothing—which covers full body wear, lower body wear, sleepwear, sportswear, underwear and upper body wear—is among one of the seven categories, along with the chemicals or chemical classes added to clothing.

According to the Work Plan, released last month, clothing is the fourth largest taxable commodity in California. In order to create the unique qualities consumers demand and desire in clothing, manufacturers must add a variety of chemicals to the garments during production. Many of these chemicals are toxic, bioaccumulative, or environmentally persistent and appear on DTSC’s Candidate Chemicals list.

The chemical and chemical classes named on the Candidate Chemicals list include: alkyl phenol and ethoxylates, aromatic amines and azo dyes, chlorinated paraffins, halogenated compounds, organophosphates, perfluorinated compounds, formaldehyde, phthalates and triclosan.

The latest investigation builds upon work already initiated by the clothing and textile industry to limit their use of toxic chemicals and actively work toward restricting the use of certain chemicals, such as the restricted substances lists (RSL). In the coming months, the DTSC will host informational meetings and call-ins to gather industry input for these categories, the chemicals named within each category, and the Work Plan in general.

Other product categories under investigation by the DTSC are cleaning products, household and office furniture, building products, beauty, personal care and hygiene products, fishing and angling equipment, and office machinery.