Harmful substances found in outdoor clothing
OEKO-TEX® certified products are harmless in terms of human ecology
Zurich (hm) With regard to the study ‘Toxics for any weather’ published by the environmental organisation Greenpeace at the end of October about the discovery of perfluorocarbons (PFC) in outdoor clothing from renowned manufacturers, the International OEKO-TEX® Association expressly states that outdoor textiles certified according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 pose no direct health hazards for consumers when used as intended.
The use of perfluorooctane sulfonates (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has been strictly regulated in the framework of OEKO-TEX® product certification since 2009.
With testing methods based on practical use, e.g. extraction using artificial sweat solution, different OEKO-TEX® laboratory tests furthermore ensure realistic evaluation of human-ecological safety of possible residual chemicals. According to current knowledge perfluorocarbons cannot be dissolved out of the textile material during normal athletic activities. It also has to be considered that various kitchen utensils with PFC finish (e.g. Teflon pans) are approved for food while being exposed to much more drastic conditions during use.
For the Greenpeace study the detection of PFC in outdoor textiles was carried out using chemical solvents such as methanol or methyl tertiary butyl ether – a method which is optimised for dissolving the substances in question. This however cannot be compared to the actual bioavailability and therefore any potential hazard of the substances to the end consumer under normal conditions of use because the method does not actually provide any statement towards this end.
For OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, extraction is also carried out using an organic solvent but mainly to comply with the legal requirements regarding PFOS (limit value 1 µg/m²).
Some of the substances known as harmful to health which the study found in some product samples such as phthalates (plasticisers), organotin compounds, antimony or alkylphenol ethoxylates known as harmful to the environment have been regulated by the criteria catalogue of the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 for many years and are checked during every certification process. For example, since tributyltin was found in sports jerseys in the year 2000, items are tested for organotin substances during every certification and the list of limited substances is updated whenever necessary. Since the beginning of 2012, test samples for OEKO-TEX® certification are also analysed for the presence of environmentally difficult alkylphenol ethoxylates as a preventive measure. From 2013 these items will have to meet stipulated limit values even though these substances which are mostly still used as surfactants in textile production outside Europe play no part in the interaction between textile products and skin. The aim is to achieve substitution of additives which still contain these harmful group of surfactants. In this matter the OEKO-TEX® Association and its associated companies proactively support the activities of the DETOX campaign which has already been joined by an impressive number of globally active brands with the aim of improving environmental protection.
More information about the requirements of the OEKO-TEX® criteria catalogue with regard to the current study about the discovery of PFC in outdoor textiles can be obtained from the OEKO-TEX® Secretariat, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.