Recently-published research suggests textiles and clothing should be screened more closely for the presence of potentially harmful chemicals, after the presence of quinolines was found in 31 clothing items on sale in Sweden.

The research by scientists in the Department of Analytical Chemistry at Stockholm University, identified a new technique for identifying quinolines in textile materials. The chemical compounds are involved in the manufacture of dyes, some of which are skin irritants and/or classified as possible human carcinogens.

Quinoline and ten quinoline derivatives were found in 31 clothing samples, across a range of colours, materials, brands, country of manufacture, and price. The items were purchased from different shops in Stockholm, Sweden between September 2011 and October 2012.

Quinoline was found to be the most abundant compound present in almost all of the samples investigated, reaching a level of 1.9 mg in a single garment. It was also found that quinoline and its derivatives were mainly associated with polyester material.

The garments included T-shirts, jeans and dresses made in at least 17 different countries for 17 global fashion brands. Three of the garments were made of organic cotton and labelled with EU or Nordic eco-labels.