Knowledge of chemicals in products is becoming more and more of a necessity in the world of consumer products, and textiles and apparel are no exception.
There are many different ways companies are required to know what is in their products. In some regions of the world, concentrations of chemicals in products are restricted or certain chemicals of concern are prohibited altogether.
In other areas, in order to comply with regulations, a company has a duty to warn the consumer or the general public.
One such example of this is California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, more affectionately known as California Prop 65. This initiative requires the State of California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.
This list of chemicals is regularly reviewed and chemicals can be added or removed from the list as new information becomes available. It also requires companies to notify residents of California if these companies are exposing residents to harmful levels of chemicals.
This notification allows consumers to make educated choices about the products they buy and use in order to protect themselves. To be clear, the obligation of the company is not to remove a chemical on the list, their duty is to alert the public with a “clear and reasonable warning” on the product and/or packaging.
These label requirements are currently under review and are being updated to more precisely communicate the hazards caused by included chemicals.
Clearly, to be compliant with Proposition 65 and other chemical product safety requirements, a company must know what chemicals are used to manufacture its products.
In this case, the company must know what chemicals are in its products before it can begin to assess the exposure consumers face.
OEKO-TEX has been helping companies certify that their products are free from harmful levels of substances that have been restricted by the OEKO-TEX Standards for more than 25 years. Now with the introduction of Eco Passport by OEKO-TEX, companies have a new tool to evaluate chemical ingredients for compliance to the restricted substance list (RSL) of the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 and the manufacturing restricted substances list (MRSL) of STeP by OEKO-TEX. With this tool, a company can verify whether chemicals of concern are used in their manufacturing and/or if they are present in the final product.
By Ben Mead, managing director, USA
Hohenstein Institute America, Inc.