Ecological testing for textiles – Helping to achieve
Pvt. Ltd., India.
DyStar Ecology Solutions.
In recent years,
the demand for eco-friendly materials and textiles has
increased significantly among consumers and there is an
increasing emphasis on sustainability from various pressure
groups. This has resulted in significantly increased
pressure on brands and retailers to meet the various eco
standards. Retailers and brands are nowadays responding to
sustainability in a more proactive manner and striving to
take care of the environmental impact of textile
manufacturing and the input of chemicals in textile during
the manufacturing stages. Due to stricter environmental
legislations, retailers and brands are raising the bar for
all the restricted chemicals and substances which need to be
avoided in the end product. As a result, textile and
clothing manufacturers are under great pressure to meet the
requirements of eco parameters set by brands in order to be
environmentally compliant and to avoid any ecology issues
arising during manufacturing and the consumption of the
This has resulted in increasing demand from the textile
industry for ecological testing against the eco parameters set
by various legislative bodies, certification bodies and global
brands at every stage of manufacturing.
There is a continuously rising demand for the testing
associations and companies who can provide fast and reliable eco
testing facilities to their supply chain partners in textile
DyStar has always taken the environmental impacts of its
products very seriously and understands the requirements of
testing the restricted substances in its raw materials and
manufactured products. With the acquisition of Texanlab in
India, DyStar has gone further in showing its commitment towards
environmental compliance through testing for eco parameters in
Texanlab has built an immense expertise in the areas of
routine and eco testing for textiles over the past few years.
They have talented expertise and necessary processes in place
to identify the ecology issues, test the parameters and give
expert advice in solving the problem by analyzing the root
According to Texanlab, many substances are restricted for use
in industry and consumer products including textiles and
garments. Their use is limited for a number of reasons including
consumer safety, worker safety and environmental issues (water
toxicity, or bioaccumulation for example).
Certain chemicals are now restricted by legislation and so
must not be present in consumer products. Others are restricted
by brands and eco labels. For major suppliers of textiles and
clothing to Europe and the USA, conformance to these and other
emerging standards concerning consumer safety, is imperative.
In countries with economies in transition, until now the
industry has been reactive rather than proactive. Their
specifications for textile products often do not contain such
norms. This is likely to change very quickly over the next few
An awareness of restricted substances is critical for all
involved in the textile supply chain. Although the textile
industry is becoming more aware of the substances that are
restricted, it is of interest to consider the background to
their listing and some of the reasons behind their restriction.
The testing for restricted substances in textiles is a highly
specialized area, it is equivalent to seeking the proverbial
‘needle in the haystacks’. However in the case of restricted
substances in textiles, not only are the sought after needles
different, each of the haystacks are also different. Thus it
tends to imply that each specific problem of testing brought to
the analytical laboratory, a specific procedure must be
developed or employed.
1. RSL (Restricted Substance List)
RSL testing is probably one of the most complex fields of
analytical chemistry because of the need for isolation and
determination of substances at the milligram, microgram and
sometimes pictogram levels.
RSL testing essentially consists of the following steps:
- Sampling – how a representative sample is obtained from
the test specimen.
- Extraction of digestion, Concentration, Cleanup,
Derivatization if required.
- Determination by Chromatography (for organic) or Atomic
absorption or emission (for metals) or Spectrophotometry (both
for metals and certain organic substances) methods.
- Evaluation of obtained data.
All of the above need to be in line with standard processes
and reliable so as to ensure final report accuracy and
Instruments used in testing
A range of analytical techniques are used in the RSL testing
for textiles including:
- Gas Chromatography with Mass Spectrophotometer (GC/MS).
- Gas Chromatography with Electron Capture Detector for
chlorinated compounds (GC/ECD).
- High Performance Liquid Chromatography with Diode Array
- High Performance Liquid Chromatography with Mass Spectral
Detector (LC/MSD) for non-volatile compounds.
- Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer with Graphite tube
Atomization (AAS / graphite) for metals.
- Inductively Coupled Plasma with Mass Spectrometer (ICP/MS)
- UV-Visible Spectrophotometer for metals and certain
- Absorbable Organic Halogen (AOX) Analyzer for
The number of substances that can be restricted is vast and
not all of the compounds listed are appropriate for textile
products. The most common substances that may be considered when
carrying out restricted substance testing are:
- Chlorinated phenols (PCP, TeCP) and Orthophenylphenol (OPP).
- Banned Amines from Azo dyes.
- Allergenic Disperse Dyes.
- Carcinogenic Dyes.
- Heavy Metals.
- Organotin compounds.
- Alkylphenol Ethoxylates (APEOs).
- Chlorinated Organic carriers.
- Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane
- Pesticide residue.
- Flame retardants.
- Short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCP).
- Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs).
- Polyaromatic hydrocarbons.
- pH of the aqueous extract.
- REACH / SVHC.
has a complete set up and the necessary expertise to carry out
the complete testing requirements for restricted substances list
by various retailers and brands as per their recommended limit
values for restricted substances.
REACH is a European Community Regulation on chemicals and
their safe use (EC 1907/2006). It deals with the Registration
Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical
substances. The Regulation applies not only to chemical
substances as such but also to mixtures (preparations) and to
substances in final consumer articles such as clothing e.g.
- Restrictions on the manufacture, placing on the market and
use of dangerous substances, preparations and articles (Annex,
- Articles and packaging materials containing over 0.1% (by
weight) SVHC substances (Substances of Very High Concern).
- Articles(products) containing substances which are
intentionally released during their normal life-time use e.g.
perfumery finishes on textiles.
Hence REACH provisions are also applicable to consumer
articles and so far, the ECHA has released a list of 15
chemicals classified as SVHCs or substances of very high
concern, reproduced below which triggers obligations for
manufacturers and retailers under REACH.
As a global manufacturer and supplier of dyestuffs and
auxiliaries DyStar has completed the pre-registration under the
REACH legislation of all the chemicals which are used for the
manufacturing of its products globally. Our fully equipped
Texanlab testing laboratory understands the testing requirements
arising from the manufacturers and exporters to fulfill the
REACH requirements as per EU legislations and offers testing
facilities for most of the SVHC’s considered banned as per REACH
legislations. Texanlab is continuously working on increasing
their capability and facility to test most of SVHC’S mentioned
3. CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety
As per the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act),
all components of garments / made-ups meant for Children (kids
below 12 years of age) will be required to independently adhere
to the norm. Testing reports are made mandatory for Lead content
on coated and painted products for all shipments. Currently
CPSIA requirements exist for Lead and flammability. Requirements
for phthalates have also been notified and will come into effect
The requirement for mandatory testing on substrates has been
granted a moratorium of one year. As per CPSIA all components of
the end product must satisfy the requirements of CPSIA,
individually. All shipments need to be tested for the presence
of Lead from accredited laboratories. Tests have to be done
individually on components. No composite samples are permissible
in testing. Prints or surface coatings which can be scraped off
from the substrates have to be tested as separate samples. At
this time, the CPSC has declared a 1 year moratorium on
substrate testing, but tests on coatings / prints stay.
Requirements / Limit values will undergo change. For example the
reduction in limits on Lead has already been notified.
Exemptions may be granted by the CPSC at some stage, but until
then, every product has to comply.
With such stringent testing procedures, many laboratories
have equipped and applied for the accreditation from CPSIA for
the CPSIA testing as per their norms on textiles. Texanlab is
now one of the few approved and accredited laboratories by CPSIA
for lead testing.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), USA has
approved Texanlab, Thane to test for the presence of Lead as per
16 CFR 1303 in Children’s Products. Thus helping the textile
industry to comply with US legislations by providing complete
GOTS is an Organic textile standard set by four groups
promoting the interests of the organic textile industry. OTA
(Organic Trade Association) in the USA SA (Soil Association) in
the UK JOCA (Japanese Organic Cotton Association) IVN (Internationaler
Verband der Naturtextilwirtschaft e.V. – International
Association Natural Textile Industry) in Germany GOTS sets
specific requirements for the complete production cycle of
organic textiles, including the cultivation of cotton. This
standard sets clear requirements and, where necessary, limits
- Organic fiber production.
- Product labeling.
- Textile auxiliaries, dyes and pigments.
- Stages in the production process, e.g. spinning, weaving,
knitting, pre-treatment, dyeing, printing, finishing, etc.
- Environmental management.
- Waste water treatment.
- Storage, packaging and transport.
- Quality assurance systems.
- End products.
- Residues in accessories.
- Social compliance.
Texanlab is one of few institutes in Asia that has the
expertise to perform analysis in compliance with GOTS. Testing
for GOTS conformance includes AOX, Formaldehyde, Chlorinated
Phenols, Biodegradability, Toxicity tests, APEOs, heavy metal
content and banned amines.
For more information on GOTS testing by Texanlab, please
This European Eco-label encourages businesses to market
products and services that are kinder to the environment. The
European Eco-label is symbolized by the Flower.
The European eco-label, which is the only sign of
environmental quality both certified by an independent
organization and valid throughout Europe, presents a unique
opportunity to satisfy the customer’s expectation.
EU flower is applicable to all textile products including
textile clothing and accessories fibers, yarns and fabrics and
interior textiles except wall and floor coverings. EU Flower has
detailed criteria for all the textile products to be tested at
various stages of the textile manufacturing. Texanlab is one of
those few laboratories which have been accredited to conduct the
testing of textile and related materials as per EU flower
More information on EU flower can be gained from http://europa.eu.int/ecolabel,
Global Trade is a reality. And so is the era of restricted
chemicals. The days of using new chemicals without a full idea
about the possible harmful effects on use are now over. The
issue of sustainability and relevance of environment protection
will be taken up ever more strongly and the textile industry
cannot wish it away.
The implications of such restrictions have to be understood
by all, across the supply chain. Products will need to be
manufactured in compliance with the requirements.
Whilst a fragmented supply chain is often felt as a
hindrance, it nevertheless needs to be aware of the requirements
and individual steps to be taken so as to ensure a clean final
Requirements are not static. They change. In the areas of
restricted chemicals, changes are expected to be rapid and at
times disturbing. But these challenges will have to be faced and
overcome by the industry if sustainability is our ultimate goal.
For more information on the eco testing for sustainable
textiles, please visit