The International Oeko-Tex Association has added new harmful substances and test limits to the list of products that must be avoided in textile items to ensure they are safe for human use.

It also plans to carry out onsite company visits every three years as an integral part of each Oeko-Tex product certification, with a view to helping firms implement the harmful substance specifications.

But companies certified as environmentally-friendly production locations will be excluded from this new regulation as they are already subject to compliance audits.

The changes to its Restricted Substances and Limit Values List (RSL) for 2010 came into force on 1 April and are required for any products certified to Oeko-Tex Standard 100.

Lab tests during each certification process will now include:

Synthetic fibres, yarns, plastic parts etc. will be tested for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon substances (PAH) in all four Oeko-Tex product classes.  The sum of the 16 defined substances may not exceed a limit of 10 mg/kg (and 1 mg/kg for benzo[a]pyrene).

Use of the bleaching and softening agent di-isobutyl phthalate (DIBP) is prohibited, in addition to the already barred phthalates. Phthalates are regulated under both REACH in Europe and CPSIA in the US.

Dioctyl tin (DOT) has been added to the list of prohibited tin-organic compounds; the limit value for product class I (articles for babies and small children) is 1.0 mg/kg; the limit for product classes II - IV is 2.0 mg/kg.

The Oeko-Tex RSL is updated at least once a year in line with worldwide governmental regulations, the latest textile processing technology, and the human health data.  

It sets strict criteria for testing textiles and garments to the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification which marks them as being free from dangerous levels of more than 100 substances believed to be harmful to human health.

These substances include lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, cadmium and other heavy metals, and carcinogenic compounds.

The certification body has also updated the Oeko-Tex label for printing on hang tags, packaging and other promotional materials.

And it is holding a free webinar on 5 May 2010 at 12:00 noon EST to focus on these recent enhancements and on the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification process. For more information about the webinar, contact Dina Dunn.