Researchers at the Institute for Textile and Apparel Product Safety (ITAPS) met March 27 with Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) officials to discuss concerns about potentially hazardous chemicals that are present in imported textiles and clothing and how best to protect consumers.
At the meeting, Dr. David Brookstein, dean of the School of Engineering and Textiles and director of ITAPS, talked about the Institute’s mission and discussed concerns about preliminary research findings on formaldehyde and brominated flame retardants in children’s clothing and car seats. Dr. Jeff Ashley, associate professor of chemistry and technical director of ITAPS, spoke about toxicology concerns associated with exposure to brominated flame retardants.
“We think there should be more research and I believe consumers have a right to believe and understand that our products are safe,” Schwartz said at the meeting, which took place at the Philadelphia University Research Center in Manayunk.
The meeting was requested by Schwartz and her Pennsylvania colleagues Rep. Chaka Fattah and Sen. Robert Casey Jr., who, in a Feb. 1 letter to Nancy Nord, acting chair of the CPSC, said they believe that toxins in textile and apparel imports “could pose a potential safety and health risk to millions of U.S. consumers.”
Citing ITAPS findings of elevated levels of formaldehyde in children’s clothing and bromine in car seats, the legislators asked Nord to consider setting standards to help consumers identify safe textile products, as is done in Europe and Japan using the Oeko-Text Standard 100. “Philadelphia University’s knowledge and experience would be helpful to organize and implement a similar model for textiles” in the U.S., the legislators said.
At the meeting, President Stephen Spinelli Jr. (pictured at left with Rep. Allyson Schwartz) welcomed the group by noting the University’s longstanding commitment to textiles science and research. “We have the expertise to do something important” on this issue, he said.
Dr. Susan Nederost, associate professor of dermatology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, spoke about how formaldehyde exposure can lead to contact dermatitis, an allergic skin condition. “With textile allergens, it’s a lot harder to teach patients to avoid them, because we don’t have good labeling [of products] in the U.S.,” Dr. Nederost said.
Also attending the meeting were Mary Toro, associate director of compliance, and Patty Adair, textile technologist, from the CPSC; and Mark Berman, chairman and CEO, Rockland Industries, Inc.