Are Synthetic Dyes Harmful?

Using dyes for your business is a cost-effective move because it can give new life to your textile at a lower price. However, one major point of consideration is whether to use natural or synthetic dyes.

Synthetic Dyes

Synthetic Dyes find use in a wide range of industries but are of primary importance to textile manufacturing. Wastewater from the textile industry can contain a variety of polluting substances including dyes. The environmental and subsequent health effects of dyes released in textile industry wastewater are becoming subject to scientific scrutiny.

Synthetic dyes are made up of chemical compounds that can be harmful to humans, especially those who work in their production. Some of the chemicals found in synthetic dyes are mercury, lead, chromium, copper, sodium chloride, toluene, and benzene. Exposure to large doses of these substances can be toxic and can have severe effects in the human body.

Synthetic Dye Chemicals Include:

  • Alkylphenol Ethoxylates
  • Aniline
  • Dioxin
  • Formaldehyde
  • Toxic Heavy Metals

These dyes have affects on our bodies, our health and the environment.

Natural Dyes

Natural dyes are derived from plants, animals, fruits, insects, minerals and other natural resources. That’s why natural dyes are usually perceived as harmless and safe for the environment. However, that’s not the case all the time.

Some natural dye sources such as logwood and bloodroot can be toxic. Logwood can produce a range of colors, but the active ingredients in it, which are hematein and hematoxylin, can be harmful when it enters the body through inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Meanwhile, bloodroot can also be harmful because it may cause irritation and inflammation when inhaled.

Most natural dyes are safe and harmless. However, they can be toxic due to the mordant used for their application. Mordants are substances used to make the natural dye stick to fabrics such as aluminum, copper, iron and chrome.

More so, natural dyes are scarce and expensive, because producing it requires a vast area of land. Sustainability is also an issue because their pigment may wash off overtime.

Deciding On Which

Because both synthetic and natural dyes have drawbacks and demand for textile is high, making a choice can be challenging.

But the good news is, more dye manufacturers are minimizing the use of harmful chemicals in their products and are more focused on creating dyes with the use of environment-friendly ingredients. At the same time, majority of dye producers are treating their dye effluent with organic bacteria in order to lessen water pollution.

The best choice is perhaps not going for natural or synthetic dyes per se, but going for products that have the least harmful impact on people and nature.

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