Chemicals in our clothes

Original story from The Australian Womans Weekly, March 24th, 2014

In the past month, clothing retailers Rivers Australia, Just Jeans, and bedding chain Pillow Talk recalled items, including children’s jeans, coloured with “azo dyes” known to break down into carcinogenic chemicals.

While not all azo dyes present as a problem expert authorities classify these colorants as carcinogens and advise against prolonged contact.

“While this dye stuff is not banned for textiles use in Australia, Just Jeans is initiating this action as it does not meet Just Jeans’ strict quality assurance standards,” said the retailers in their official product recall statement.

Europe has banned such imports and the US has imposed limits in place to guide retailers but Australia has taken no such action prompting fears it could become a dumping ground for harmful clothing.

The Australian Health Department’s National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme has taken action and wants to prohibit hazardous azo dyes from sale and recommended the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission constrain the importation of hazardous dyed clothing and textiles. At this stage, no laws or rules have yet been reformed to restrict azo- colorant imports.

Azo dyes were identified as strong cancer-causing agent in rats and mice fed and injected with the substance in the 1930s.

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