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Numerous chemicals are used throughout the textile, apparel and footwear industries from the raw fibers to the finished products during distribution. However, some of these chemical substances remain on the final article that comes into contact with human skin and thus can expose individuals to allergies and irritation.

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, ANSES, has published the results of their expert appraisal that was conducted to identify the chemicals likely to be found in textiles, apparel and footwear and what possibly could be responsible for these incidents. In total, 20 groups of chemical substances were screened for in clothing and around 50 chemical substances in footwear.

The results of the ANSES appraisal confirmed the presence of the following substances in clothing and footwear:

Footwear Textile Clothing
  • formaldehyde
  • 2‑phenoxyethanol
  • para-tert-butylphenol
  • drometrizole
  • chromium VI
  • certain biocides (orthophenyl phenol, 4‑chloro-3-methylphenol)
  • butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • 2‑mercaptobenzothiazole
  • benzyl benzoate
  • nickel
  • rosin
  • benzyl alcohol
  • dodecanethiol
  • triphenyl phosphate
  • methyl, ethyl and propyl parahydroxybenzoates
  • aniline
  • 1,4‑paraphenylenediamine
  • 3,3′-dimethoxybenzidine
  • 4‑aminoazobenzene
  • benzidine
  • NPs/NPEOs/octylphenol ethoxylates (OPEOs)
  • Certain dyes (CI Disperse Yellow 23 and CI Disperse Orange 3776)
  • anthracene
  • nickel
  • chromium VI
  • cadmium derivatives
  • dibutyltin



ANSES also issued recommendations on how to better protect consumers, such as:

  • For authorities:
    • Revise the regulatory limit of Chromium VI in leather
    • Set a regulatory limit for Nickel in textiles
    • Maintain control over footwear and textile clothing to avoid the presence of non-compliant articles
  • For companies placing their articles on the market:
    • Work to establish a consumer information plan that indicates the potential presence of unwanted substances (ex. labelling, packaging)
    • Work with suppliers to remove substances over the regulatory threshold (CMR, skin sensitizer and/or irritant)
  • For the general population
    • Remember the importance of washing textile clothing before wearing them for the first time

Simultaneously the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), is leading a call for evidence on skin sensitizers, skin irritants and corrosive substances in textiles, leather articles, hides and furs. More than 300 substances were listed in the call for evidence.

UL is here to support with a wide portfolio of chemical analysis and management services to assist you in screening your products for unwanted substances during all stages of the supply chain.