Dyeing Restricted Substances

Restricted substances list is very important factors for apparel industries. Environmental responsibility is a fundamental part of our approach to corporate Social Responsibility. We recognise that buyer business has many environmental and social impacts. Some of these are associated with the activities of the suppliers. Buyer want to promote more sustainable practices within buyer own operations and here possible influence you as Supplier to improve the environmental standards in the Supply Chain.  It is mandatory that effluent is controlled to Local and National in-country regulations at all sites involved in the manufacture of fabric & garments for buyer including sub-contracted units, for example Laundry Facilities. Any textile and washing factory should have chemical purchase policy to minimize the risk

Storage and handling of dyes and chemicals must be made the subject of high standards of industrial hygiene and safe working practices, the objective being to prevent or to reduce to an absolute minimum, the exposure to the workforce and the associated health risks. Exposure can occur through Skin Absorption, Contact with the Eyes, Ingestion or Inhalation.

Working procedures should be established to avoid exposure by all these routes. As far as possible, this should be achieved by engineering means such as containment and/or effective ventilation, including the use of dust free or liquid products. Protective clothing & headgear, where applicable, should always be worn i.e. gloves, goggles or face masks.  No smoking, drinking or eating is allowed in areas where chemicals are handled. There is a number of restricted substances that buyrs does not allow or only allow a restricted substances list  to be present in any of their products, be it in the fabric, trims, accessories, packaging, garment processing etc. For a list of these restricted substances on fabrics please see the buyer Fabric Assurance Manual. For restricted substances list on accessories, trims, interlining, packaging and in garment processing please see below:

1. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound that can be found in dyeing and printing for fixation (e.g. easy care finish), preservation of dyes and prints, tanned leather, interlinings, bonded fabrics and for anti-shrinking treatments. In larger quantities, it can cause allergy, skin and respiratory tract irritations and is a suspected carcinogen. It can be present in 2 forms: free on the surface (to determine the level of Formaldehyde present in the fabric or garment to give an indication on the risk of handling the product), or released in a vapour form (to determine the level of Formaldehyde given off by the fabric into the atmosphere to give an indication as to the risk of respiratory problems). Any items for buyer should not exceed the following levels:

Free formaldehyde – 30ppm

Released formaldehyde – 75ppm

Alternatives: Use pure finishes where possible. In the case of applications such as flock or appliqué then formaldehyde containing agents should be avoided. Where this is not possible the above standards must apply to be included as part of (and not separate from) the whole sample test result (i.e. base material plus application together must not exceed above values

2. Nickel

All components used for buyer must be nickel free: Nickel is an allergenic, can cause contact dermatitis and suspected to be carcinogenic. It is a silver white metal that is added to or plated on other metals to improve the hardness of alloys and corrosion resistance properties, particularly associated with a bright metal finish. These are often present in accessories for garments, such as zips, buttons and rivets as well as earrings, bracelets, zippers, watches, studs, rivets, belt buckles etc

3. Phthalates

All products supplied to or for buyer orders must be phthalate free. Phthalates are plasticisers that are used to soften PVC, which can be used in computers, paints, printing inks, adhesives, in plastisol prints, cosmetics, footwear, stationary, clothing, accessories, toys and many packaging operations. Phthalates can migrate into the body, if they come into contact with saliva/sweat and are suspected to be an endocrine disruptor and carcinogens and are known to disturb the endocrine system

4. Cadmium

All products supplied to or for buyer orders must be cadmium free. Cadmium is commonly used in the industry as pigment, dye, paint stabiliser and plating for functional and decorative purposes. Therefore it may be found in a variety of products including packaging, plastics, paint, plastisol printed areas, PVC, PU, coated or laminated fabrics, toys, batteries, furniture, apparel and clothing accessories, such as buttons, zips etc.

5. Chlorinated Organic Dye Carriers 

These can affect the nervous system and might have an irritating effect on skin and mucous membranes and are therefore prohibited in buyer products. Dye carriers can be based on trichloro benzene, biphenyl phenol, orthophenyl phenol & halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons. Used as carriers in the dyeing process of polyester or wool/polyester fibres. They can dye at boil to cut costs.

Alternatives: High temperature dyeing of polyester by aqueous or continuous dyeing techniques only should be used. Use only permitted dyestuffs. Substitute chlorinated carriers with toxicologically acceptable carriers such as Carboxylic Acid Esters.

6. Organo Tin Compounds

Organo Tin Compounds must not be present in any Buyer products. Tributyl Tin (TBT) Triphenyl Tin (TPT) is used for anti-microbial finishing and in some printing inks. For textile product it is used for preventing the bacterial degradation of sweat and unpleasant odours in socks, shoes and sport clothing. It is a catalyst and stabiliser for PVC and PU, used in coated or laminated fabrics e.g. imitation leather, bags, shoes.

High concentrations of these compounds are repro-toxic. They are persistent organic pollutants (POP), causing immense damage to water supplies and aquatic species and absorbed through the skin may affect the nervous system. Dibutyltin (DBT) is another Organotin with various applications, such as intermediate for stabilisers of PVC, a catalyst for electrodeposition paints, a catalyst for various types of polyurethanes and as a catalyst for esterification.

7. PCBs & Polychlorinated Terphenyls (PCTs)

PCBs and PCTs must not be present in any Buyer products. Chlorinated organic carriers such as PCB and PCT are mainly used as pesticides but also as softeners, carriers and flame retardants. They are large, stable molecules that can easily accumulate in organisms and environment. They can affect liver, hormone, immune and nervous system.

Alternatives: Modern processing techniques do not require use of PCBs.

8. Chlorinated Phenols – PCP 

Chlorinated Phenols are chemical compounds that include PCP and TeCP. Orthochlorophenol, Pentachlorophenol (PCP), Penatachlorophenol & TeCP should be avoided in the production, storage or transportation of any product. It is used as an antifungal agent in leather/textiles e.g. heavy duty cotton and can also be used as preservative in sizing agents/adhesives and printing pastes. They are bio-accumulative, if persistent in the environment they can be harmful to human health and toxic to the aquatic environment and can cause allergy and be cancer inducing. Like most chlorinated compounds they degrade to dioxins on combustion. Dioxins are one of the most toxic non degradable restricted substances list around.

Buyer requests that their concentration in any product should be nil.

Anything treated with PCP must be disposed of by methods other than burning.

Alternatives:Seek supplier advice. Use should not be required if long term storage is not


9. Prohibited Colourants

Azo Dye ‘Blue Colourant’ The azo dye ‘blue colourant’ known by the trade name ‘used for colouring textiles and leather must not be used in any products for buyer. It has got a high aquatic toxicity and reaches the environment via waste water from the dyeing processes.

Azo Dyes: Azo Dyes are a group of synthetic dyestuffs based on nitrogen. They are suitable for all natural and synthetic textile fibres used in textiles (dyed, printed and white) and leather products including clothing, bedding, towels, leather gloves, toys, yarns and fabrics intended for final use by the consumer. They get into the product through the colouration process, especially printing or dyeing. Azo Dyes can break down and produce aromatic amines that have been found to be carcinogenic and allergic and pose a risk to workers and consumers

Carcinogenic Disperse Dyes: These are commonly used to dye polyester, acetate and nylon, also used to colour plastic jewellery and PVC/PES film and found in printing. They can cause cancer and allergies.

Allergenic Disperse Dyes: These are commonly used to dye polyester, acetate and nylon and can cause dermatitis. The following dyestuffs have been implicated in cases of contact dermatitis. Suppliers must be able to certify the absence of restricted substances list of dyestuff. Again adequate alternatives exist without restricting the colour palette.

Alternatives: There is no reason to restrict colour palettes as adequate alternatives of both the Disperse Dyes & other colorants exist. Use only permitted dyestuffs

10. Chromium (VI)

Chromium VI (hexavalent chromium) or its derivatives must not be present in any buyerproducts, as Chromium (VI) and compounds are classified as carcinogenic and can cause allergic reactions, are bio accumulative, highly toxic as well as being environmentally persistent. It is found in dyes, pigments, dye additives, pre/after treatments in dyeing processes particularly associated with the leather industry.

Alternatives: Avoid 2 bath chrome tanning as it uses Chrome VI directly. Carefully control 1 bath tanning to avoid the conversion from Chrome III to Chrome VI. Avoid strong alkaline conditions (e.g. treatment with Ammonia before tanning and strong alkaline glues). Careful selection of neutralizing agents (replace with reducing agents) and fat liquoring agents

11. Alkylphenols (APs) and Alkylphenol Ethoxylates (APEOs)

Alkylphenol Ethoxylates are a class of chemical which are used as non-ionic surfactants with an emulsifying and dispersing action. They are considered to be harmful and toxic to the environment and are possible endocrine disrupters. The most common usage is in detergent products, scouring agents and emulsifying agents in printing. The second most common use is in textile processing (in particular with fibres such as linen and silk, whose naturally occurring gums and resins make them difficult to wet out) where it is used in various textiles auxiliaries including wetting agents and in the manufacture of water based pigment pastes to improve pigment dispersion.

At the processing stage , approximately 50% of APEO are used as emulsifiers for emulsion polymers based on styrol butadiene, Styrol acrylate, Pure acrylate or PVC systems. The range of products where APEO’s can be found includes plastic coating, paper coating, textile coating, dispersion paints and varnishes, sealants and similar products. The use of APs and APEOs specifically containing Octyl Phenols (OP), Nonylphenols and Nonylphenol ethoxylates is prohibited in all areas of buyer production. Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPEO), Octylphenol and their Ethoxylates (Alkyl Ethoxylates)

Alternatives: Alcohol ethoxylates are an acceptable alternative.

12. Fluorocarbons – PFOS, halides, amides and other derivatives

The use of fluorocarbons containing Perfluoro Octanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluoro Octanyl Sulphonates (PFOS) are prohibited in buyer products, as these are persistent in the environment, possibly carcinogenic, bio-accumulative and harmful to mammals. PFOS are found in coatings for fabrics to provide water or soiling repellency.

Alternatives: Chemical suppliers are now able to offer adequate alternatives.

13. Flame Retardants

Flame retardants such as tris-(2,3,-dibromopropyl)-phosphate, polybromobiphenyles; Polybrominatedbiphenols (PBB), Ttris-(aziridinyl)-phosphineoxide, Pentabromodiphenylether (PentaBDE) and Octabromodiphenylether (OctaBDE) are not allowed buyer products.

Flame retardants used in the manufacture of various items to inhibit or prevent combustion and to reduce the flammability of a product, are chemicals causing allergic reactions. They are carcinogenic, mutagenic, persistent organic pollutants, repro-toxic and toxic. They are restricted substances list under the Dangerous Substances and Preparations (Safety) Regulations 1980. Flame retardants may be found in the finishing or manufacturing process of apparel, homewares, furniture, toys and electronic products.

14. Alkanes – Short Chain Chlorinated Paraffin’s (SCCP’s)

Short chain chlorinated paraffins are toxic to the environment and are prohibited for the use in buyer products. They are often used as softeners on flame retardant treated fabrics. Also used as degreasers and softeners for leather.

15. Biocides & Biocide Finishes

Biocides are harmful to health and the environment and are prohibited to be used in buyer products. Biocides are often used to impart properties such as “antimicrobial” or “anti-odour” in textile products. Biocide finishes include Anti-allergy/bacterial/fungal/microbial finishes.  As these can contain harmful chemicals, biocide finishes are not allowed to be used on any buyer product.

Alternatives: Seek advice from chemical supplier.

16. Triclosan

This is an active ingredient in antimicrobial finishes and is an environmental hazard. buyer will therefore not allow any Triclosan to be used on it’s products.

17. Yellowing

There has been a considerable increase in the use of phenol and aromatic amine antioxidants and stabilisers. These compounds are now widely found in products such as packaging, lubricants and foams. The most commonly used is BHT (butylated hydroxyl tolulene). In urban areas and areas of high traffic density, atmospheric pollution from oxides of nitrogen and anti-oxidants is known by various names: yellowing, warehouse yellowing or elusive yellowing. Practical steps for prevention:

  • Don’t allow diesel-powered fork-lifts in the production or warehouse areas
  • Exclude exhaust fumes from garment storage areas
  • Avoid direct gas or oil heating systems
  • Specify BHT-free polythene for packaging
  • Specify BHT-free lubricants during manufacture
  • Finish fabric on the acid side of neutral (pH 5.5-6.5), to avoid skin irritation and burns.

18. Soluble/Extractable Heavy Metals

Heavy elements such as:

  • Antimony (Sb)
  • Arsenic (As)
  • Barium (Ba)
  • Cadmium (Cd)
  • Chromium (Cr)
  • Cobalt (Co)
  • Lead (Pb)
  • Mercury (Hg)
  • Selenium (Se)
  • Tin (Sn)

refer to any metallic chemical element that has a relatively high density and is toxic or poisonous at low concentrations. All heavy elements have a very negative effect on human health and are found in the pre-processing or in some dyestuffs and chemicals, including printing inks and print pastes, accessories for textiles and clothing (such as buttons, zips, clasps), paints, trims, plastics and metal components.

Alternatives: The use of fabrics, prints & finishes and accessories containing these metal elements must be avoided.

19. Chloro-organic compounds/Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)

Found as solvents in dyeing and printing, also finishing agents, flame retardants and plasticizers, solvents for fats and oils used as stain removers and scouring assistants. These restricted substances exist as liquid or gas and can affect the nervous system, with irritating effects on skin and mucous membranes. The above are restricted substances list in several EU countries and are banned to be used for any products supplied to buyer

20. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Persistent organic pollutants (such as polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) and short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) are organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation

21. Solvent based pigment printing systems & Ozone depleting solvents

The use of solvent based pigment binder systems is prohibited and aqueous based binder systems must be used instead. Solvents are principally used as cleaning agents but are also found in other products such as adhesives and dye carriers. All processes where solvents are used must comply with the following criteria:

  1. Authentic date & safety sheets must be available to all operatives. Due regard must be paid to the health and safety of the operative when operating with solvents with adequate ventilation, sufficient personal protective equipment and proper records kept of operative exposures.
  2. The solvent must be recoverable.
  3. In the case of adhesives an aqueous based alternative should be used where possible.
  4. Spot stain removal should be done where possible using aqueous based agent.

Solvent operations should be minimised with no residual solvent left on the final product. Extreme caution should be exercised when handling solvents with proper risk assessment as to their usage undertaken. In any event the use of ozone depleting solvents as defined in the Montreal protocol is prohibited.

Alternatives: Aqueous based binder systems & aqueous cleaning systems to be used.

22. Mothproofing Agents

The use of mothproofing agents in the production of clothing is prohibited.

Alternatives: There is no alternative to moth proofing agents. Use of agents giving similar properties is not necessary in a properly controlled production environment.

23. Organochloride Pesticides

Pesticides are used as a defence against insects etc during the cultivation of natural fibres such as cotton, they may also be used to protect other products such as leather or feathers. Pesticides may harm the environment through soil, air or water pollution. Some  chlorinated pesticides may convert to dioxins which are extremely toxic.

Alternative: Checks to be made with supplier as regulations are regularly changing.

24. Fungicides

Fungicides may be applied or inserted in products for protection against mould whilst in transit.

Fungicides containing Dimethyl fumarate can cause allergenic reactions when in contact with the skin.

25. Latex

As natural rubber can cause allergic reactions in some people it is not allowed to be used in any of buyer products.

26. Mercury (Hg)

Mercury is used in certain caustic soda processes in fabric/garment manufacture. It has detrimental effects on the central nervous system and is an anticipated carcinogen.

Mercury containing products are prohibited and all caustic soda treatments must be mercury free.

Alternatives: Use of non Mercury containing products required.

27. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC can be used in many areas such as coatings, accessories and zips. As PVC is closely related to phthalates (for softening) and organotins (as stabiliser) the use of PVC is prohibited.

Alternatives: Non polyvinylchloride, Polyurethane or Acrylic containing products are readily available.

28. Chlorine Bleaches

The use of chlorine-containing bleaches should be avoided wherever possible or practicable.  In the bleaching and processing of fabric and garments, where there is a choice, peroxide based bleaching systems are preferred.

29. Potassium Permanganate

This is a purple chemical that is used as a bleaching agent and can be toxic, skin & respiratory irritant, as well as a hazard to the environment

30. Residual PH

Textile processing can use extremes of alkalinity and acidity.  All finished products must fall within an acceptable limit to avoid any skin irritation.

Upper Limit – pH 7.5

Lower Limit – pH 4.5

The preparation, dyeing and finishing of Textiles can involve the use of chemicals that have high levels of acid and alkali. The final washing process is usually where the pH is monitored and corrected.

31. Dyestuff suppliers

It is strongly recommended that dyestuffs are only supplied by members of ETAD (Ecological & Toxicological Association of Dyes & Organic Pigment Manufacturers).

Please visit the ETAD website at to find the latest information on an ETAD members list.

32. Uzbekistan Cotton

The use of organised and forced child labour is completely unacceptable and leads us to conclude that whilst these practices persist in Uzbekistan cannot support the use of cotton from Uzbekistan in our clothing.We will require you, wherever possible, to identify the source of raw cotton used in buyer Clothing and document this. For all purposes, including all Wal-Mart supplier agreements, this requirement concerning the origin of the cotton is a product specification of all purchase orders for Wal-Mart merchandise containing cotton. Additional information on the issues surrounding Uzbekistan cotton can be found on the following website(s):

33. Dimethyl Fumarate (DMF)

This is found as a fungicide on leather and textiles, paper, wood and anti-humidity bags. As it can cause severe skin irritation plus other health hazards, Dimethyl Fumarate is prohibited in any products/items supplied to buyer

34. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

We need to maintain safe chemical handling procedure and policy.  PAHs are considered to cause several health problems due to their carcinogenic and genotoxic properties. PAHs are formed during the incomplete combustion of organic materials such as wood, oil and animal fats. Rubber and plastics are at most risk of containing PAHs. The restricted substances list are defined above clearly.

Dr. John, British Textile Institute.