Tessile e Salute

Chemical risk: how to deal with

The main risks for the environment and for the health of consumer in contact with fabrics and footwear can be attributed to the chemicals used in production processes and aimed at processing, staining and functionalization of materials.

It is impossible to imagine the textile and fashion industry without the contribution of chemical processes. It is not a matter of excluding substances and compounds but of knowing them, evaluating their effects and using them according to strictly controlled practices.

During the last decades, scientific and industrial research has paid a great deal of attention to the development of safe chemicals for the environment, for workers and end users of manufactured goods, moreover procedures and regulations for use have been established. In Europe, the use of substances deemed dangerous for the environment and health has also been banned, and the chemicals put on the market are subject to verification and monitoring.

Futhermore, for a better understanding of the chemical risk some initial considerations are necessary:

• Where available, the use of more sustainable chemicals is always desirable, taking into account the environmental, technical, economic and social aspects of possible alternatives.

• The chemical production chains must adopt good manufacturing practices both because the methods of use of the substances can be quite different (in relation, for example, to the chemical substances used, to the danger, to the machines used or to the cycles of processing) and because some dangerous substances for which, to date, no sustainable alternatives exist, could be used only in strictly controlled conditions.

• In addition, we must also remember that chemistry, that is the science that studies the constitution and transformation of matter, teaches that molecules interact, forming bonds and giving life to new molecules; in most cases these processes do not occur on their own, but are induced at industrial level through synthetic chemistry.

• However, chemical reactions also take place in nature and, in this case, spontaneously. Spontaneous reactions can also occur in industrial chemicals (albeit very rarely), due to degradation of the original molecules or contamination by other substances that have occurred in the processes.

• About this, remember that some dangerous substances are naturally present in the air, in the body, in food and in drinking water and therefore the limits should never be lower than the quantities present in them.

• The chemical industries are required to fully comply with national and international laws and regulations and consequently to supply substances and / or mixtures compliant with them.