Azo dyes could be banned from skin contact
The European Commission has adopted a proposal to restrict the use of azo dyes, a group of 43 chemicals that can cause cancer, and are dangerous to human genes or reproduction if used carelessly.Azo dyes are used in special paints, printing inks, varnishes and adhesives. The EC is proposing a further amendment to Council Directive 76/769/EEC on the use of certain dangerous substances to ban their sale to the general public from 1 April 2003, although most producers have already stopped selling these substances to anyone except professional users.
Azo-dyed textiles and leathers that may come into close contact with the body will be banned. Tests, based on the current German analysis method, will have to be made on dyed products coming from outside Europe.
The group of products seen as potential dangers for skin/azo dye contact includes sleeping bags, neck-strap purses, clothes, bedding, towels, hairpieces, hats, footwear, gloves, wristwatch straps, handbags, purses, chair covers, textile or leather toys, and carpets apart from hand-made oriental ones. If any of these products contain azo dyes they will be banned. Oriental carpets were seen by both the European Parliament and Commission as low risk and have not therefore been added to the list of banned items.
“The Commission attaches great importance to harmonising the provisions concerning chemicals to ensure a single market, while simultaneously ensuring the protection of people’s health,” said Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen. “This new proposal brings the Community’s chemicals legislation up to the latest state of scientific evidence.”
The EC first restricted the use of some of these carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction (CMR) substances in 1994 as part of its action on public health, and to combat cancer.
Since then, the Commission has made several proposals to add extra chemicals to the list as and when scientific evidence emerged that they have CMR properties. Its strategy has been to try to balance the competitiveness of an industry with protecting human health and the environment, while also ensuring that the internal market functions efficiently.
The EC has already produced proposals for restricting the use of a list of hazardous substances including pthalates, short chain chlorinated paraffins, and pentabromodiphenyl ether.