The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has asked all US-based clothing and apparel manufacturers to report the new use of possibly harmful chemicals found in textile pigments and dyes.

The chemicals, which also have other industrial applications, include polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), benzidine dyes and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

"Although a number of these chemicals are no longer manufactured or used in the US, they can still be imported in consumer goods or for use in products," said EPA spokesperson, Jim Jones.

The new rules are outlined under the USA's Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). They require any person or company to notify the EPA 90 days before they manufacture, import or process any of the chemicals specified, so that the EPA can evaluate the chemicals and decide if they are safe.

And if the action is warranted, the EPA retains the right to prohibit certain new uses of the named chemicals.