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NSF International’s New Partnerships to Ease Hazardous Chemicals Testing

NSF International, a global public health and safety organization, has been approved as a third-party assessor for two sustainability-focused programs that verify the use of hazardous chemicals throughout much of the textile supply chain.

The first assessment, the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Manufactured Restricted Substances List (ZDHC MRSL), screens for hazardous chemicals used in the processing and manufacturing of textiles. These chemical applications include mold prevention used in storing leather, emulsifier and dispersing agents for dyes and prints, and phthalates used to make plastic buttons more flexible and durable.

NSF International, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., will screen chemical-formulation information supplied by the manufacturer and determine whether it meets the requirements of ZHDC MRSL Conformance Level 1 certification. MRSL is a list of chemical substances banned from international use in facilities that process textile materials and trim parts in apparel, leather and footwear.

The second assessment, the ToxFMD Screened Chemistry Program, also includes the ZDHC MRSL screen, as well as incorporating additional reviews that assess the human and environmental hazards associated with chemicals formulations used in the textile industry.

As consumers demand safer products, manufacturing processes and transparency, brands and suppliers are looking more closely at the chemicals they use, NSF noted. A major benefit of ToxFMD is that companies can comply with supplier requirements and promote green chemistry without divulging proprietary formulations to outside parties.

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“Third-party evaluation, completed by our toxicologists through a robust and comprehensive vetting process using state-of-the-art resources, promotes transparency and allows manufacturers to demonstrate compliance with supplier and consumer demands,” Jenny Oorbeck, general manager of NSF International’s Sustainability Services, said.

NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization, will serve as a third-party assessor for ToxFMD, along with ToxServices, the developer of the chemical assessment program.

“Teaming up with NSF International to deliver cost-effective and high-quality evaluations is a win-win for clients, brands and the environment,” Margaret Whittaker, managing director of ToxServices, said.

As part of ToxFMD, companies are required to disclose intentionally added ingredients and residuals or impurities greater than 100 parts per million in the final textile treatment formulation. The findings are confidential so manufacturers can meet supplier demands and program requirements without divulging proprietary information. Clients are given an “acceptable” or “non-acceptable” status based on the ToxFMD assessment.

ToxFMD provides a streamlined platform for chemical hazard assessment and does not require membership fees or subscription. NSF International reviews the chemicals against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Chemical Ingredients List or master criteria, the GreenScreen List Translator or GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals, in addition to the ZDHC MRSL.

Control Union was also recently added as an assessor for the ZDHC MRSL conformance standard. It makes Control Union the first certification body that certifies chemical products on all three ZDHC Conformance Levels. The two organizations join the eight already approved certification standards assessors, bringing the total number of collaborators to 10.