Up to November 29, 2013 two expert committees at ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency are accepting stakeholder comments on a restrictions proposal submitted by Sweden on REACH. Sweden’s proposal includes restriction in the use of nonylphenols (NPs) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) in textile articles such as clothing, fabrics, accessories and interior textiles (including their prints).
The use of NPs and NPEs in concentrations of 0.1 per cent or more is already restricted since 2005 within the EU in the manufacturing of textiles. On the other hand, a majority of textiles purchased within the EU are imported from manufacturers and suppliers outside of the EU, including from Asian countries Hong Kong and mainland China. Sweden now claims that these suppliers still use MNPs and NPEs as a detergent or emulsifying agent in the manufacture of their textiles.
After being imported into the EU, such articles will be washed and residues of NPs and NPEs will be released into waste water. Eventually, these toxic substances will end up in the aquatic environment. NPs enter aquatic life directly as NPs or as breakdown products from NPEs. Sweden’s major concern is the prevention of the environment from these toxic substances. NPs are toxic and hormone disrupting substances that may cause long term adverse effects to the aquatic environment.