The Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI) is calling on the European Union (EU) to introduce product-specific regulation for textiles aimed at reducing risks associated with chemicals in items such as clothing.

In a report, to be submitted to the Swedish government, the agency sets out its proposals for the product-specific regulation, which it says would go beyond restricting – for use in textiles consumer articles – the list of category 1 carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMR) substances already proposed by the European Commission, Echa and member state competent authorities next October.

It should instead cover "identified textile-relevant substances" with hazardous properties, including substances which are endocrine-disrupting, allergenic and harmful to the environment and humans, as well as CMRs, the agency says.

"There are substances in textiles that can harm people and the environment," said Amelie Pedersen, project manager for the government assignment at the Swedish Chemicals Agency. "Moreover, it is difficult for companies, public agencies and consumers to obtain information on which chemical substances occur in textiles. A specific Product Act within the EU would be the most effective way of reducing the risks."

KIMA says it would like to explore the possibilities of extending existing restrictions on certain azo dye substances by way of REACH, the EU legislation on chemicals. These dyes are added to textiles and can be degraded into carcinogenic substances. The agency would also like to explore the possibility of introducing labelling requirements within the EU which would cover allergenic substances in textiles.

Additionally, KIMA is proposing a special investigation into a tax on clothing. Financial instruments, it says, could act as a supplement pending legislation that would reduce the risks associated with dangerous substances in textiles.

The agency says it is already participating in several activities with the aim of reducing the risks associated with dangerous substances in textiles at national, EU and international level.

Click here to view the full report, which is in Swedish. A summary in English appears on page 7.