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Tainted Goods: The Purpose of Textile Testing & Chemical Identification

As a consumer, what your clothing items are made of does not often cross your mind. We may understand that it’s made of cotton, silk, linen, wool, etc., but we may not understand what is involved in that process. Sometimes there can be toxic chemicals within the fibers of the fabrics or left behind on the garment as a by-product of the production process that may make consumers ill or lead to systemic issues after consistent exposure.

Prior to textiles hitting the marketplace, it is important they are tested to fully understand the composition of the textile and finished garment. This ensures the clothing products are free of harmful residues, contaminants and particulates. As a retailer, the last thing you want is to purchase and/or sell a textile laced with harmful chemicals to your customers which may create both health and safety concerns.

What Kind of Tests Can Be Performed on Textiles and Clothing Articles?

There are a variety of tests that can be performed on textiles and garments depending on the issue at hand or the service requested. For example, the OEKO-TEX standard is considered to be one of the best-known labels for textiles, and products which bear this label signify that the manufacturer has ensured any chemicals in these textiles and finished clothing articles are below harmful levels.

Avomeen can test for known inorganic and organic contaminants in a variety of materials, including textiles, finished clothing articles, buttons, zippers, and other accessories. We utilize a variety of analytical instrumentation to ensure reliable, comprehensive results. Specifically, for inorganic analysis, we use ICP-MS for inorganic analysis, GC-MS for volatile and semi-volatile organic analysis, and LC-MS for non-volatile organic analysis.

What Are Textile Tests Looking For?

Many times the tests are looking for any unknown or unfamiliar substances and materials, as well as known harmful substances. For example, Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX tests for:

  • Banned azo colorants, pentachlorophenol, cadmium, lead, etc.
  • Numerous harmful chemicals
  • Numerous substance classes relevant to the environment
  • Requirements listed in sections of REACH regulations and the ECHA-SVHC candidate list

Contaminant Analysis and Identification

Contaminant analysis and identification methods can determine and identify many unknown components in materials. Avomeen will detect, isolate and identify all suspected and even unsuspected contaminants down to trace levels. These unknown components are often identified as harmful chemicals, banned azo colorants, lead, formaldehyde, etc. Our state-of-the-art analytical tools will help detect the smallest of particles embedded in a variety of textile samples provided.

Characterization and Toxicity Determinations

Once identified, Avomeen’s scientists work to characterize and determine the toxicity level of the contaminant. In addition, we can determine whether the levels of said contaminant are safe or unsafe based on the specific item and associated regulations. With that information, methods for preventing reoccurrence, eliminating initial formation and removing the contamination all together can be developed.

Contaminants in textiles can affect consumers in a variety of ways depending on level of the contaminant, amount of exposure time and how toxic the contaminant is. For example, a neurotoxin like lead is extremely toxic and affects the brain, reproductive system and cognitive development.

Why Testing for Harmful Substances in Textiles, Garments, and Clothing Articles Matters

According to OEKO-TEX, “between 4,000 and 8,000 individual chemicals enter factories in countless formulations.” Some of those chemicals are safe, but many may be harmful and are linked to neurotoxicity, allergic dermatitis and other health effects for humans.

By testing for these harmful substances, we not only limit human exposure to these substances but also limit the adverse side effects these substances may have on the environment. The chemicals used in the creation of textiles may pollute water sources, kill wildlife and plant life, and ruin ecosystems. Testing does more than just keep you safe, it’s also a key tool in keeping our environment healthy.

Avomeen’s Textile Testing Expertise

Avomeen’s state-of-the-art instrumentation, teams of Ph.D-led chemists and investigative chemical analysis experience allows us work on any project no matter the level of difficulty. From deformulation analysis to raw material qualification, allow Avomeen to help you ensure your product is safe. With a proven track record of testing tainted clothing articles and textiles, we’ve got the expertise and experience needed to ensure reliable, comprehensive results. If you have a specific project in mind, let’s talk.


Our expert blogger is John Ferencz, Avomeen’s Project Lead, Trace Element & Contaminant Analysis. Clients benefit greatly from his extensive experience developing, implementing and optimizing analytical methods used in both research and development and current good manufacturing practice environments. John’s proficiency in performing validation and verification for both developed and transferred analytical methods per U.S. FDA, U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, U.S. EPA and U.S. Geological Survey guidelines helps clients to ensure compliance with regulations such as USP 232 and USP 233, as well as California Proposition 65. John’s expertise extends to a variety of industries including nutraceuticals, food and drink, and regulatory compliance.