Non-regulated aromatic amines in clothing purchased in Spain and Brazil: Screening-level exposure and health impact assessment

J Environ Manage. 2023 Aug 1:339:117905. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.117905. Epub 2023 Apr 18.


The staggering amount of chemicals in clothes and their harmful effects on human health and the environment have attracted the attention of regulatory agencies and the scientific community worldwide. Azo dyes are synthetic dyestuffs with widespread use in textile industries, currently classified as emerging pollutants of great health concern to consumers. These compounds may release one or more aromatic amines (AAs) after reductive cleavage of their azo bounds. Twenty-two AAs have already been regulated due to their carcinogenic effects. However, since information on their potential toxicity is not currently available, several AAs have not been still regulated by the European Union. Considering this gap, the present study aimed to assess the levels of forty non-regulated AAs in 240 clothing items from Spain and Brazil. The potential impact on the health of vulnerable population groups after dermal exposure to those garments was also evaluated. In Brazil, at least one AA was detected in the clothes, while in samples obtained in Spain, only two of them showed values below the limit of detection for AAs. In 75 clothes, at least one of the measured AAs was higher than the hazardous threshold (30 mg/kg), which can mean risks to human health since these compounds are suspected to be mutagenic. Aniline, the most common AA, showed a high detection rate (82%) in clothes, with significantly higher concentrations in items commercialized in Brazil (0.35 vs. 0.17 mg/kg; p = 0.032). Moreover, o-aminobenzenesulfonic and p-phenylenediamine, suspected mutagenic, were found at relevant concentrations in several clothes, mainly made of synthetic fibers. In this study, the hazard index associated with exposure to AAs through clothing was low (0.006-0.13) for all the population groups of both countries in the medium-bound scenario. However, its value was close to 1 for Brazilian pregnant women (0.998) when the maximum concentration value was considered under an upper-bound scenario. The risk of exposure to non-regulated AAs may be underestimated since only dermal exposure was considered for risk assessment. Moreover, the co-occurrence of other carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic substances present in skin-contact clothes should mean an additional source of potential risk.

Keywords: Aniline; Azo dyes; Clothes; Dermal exposure; Non-regulated aromatic amines; Vulnerable groups.

MeSH terms

  • Amines*
  • Brazil
  • European Union
  • Female
  • Health Impact Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Spain


  • Amines