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Fact sheet: Azo pigments

There is a ban on the import, sale and use of a specific blue azo pigment, and azo pigments that may release carcinogens, as well as certain products containing azo pigments.

The blue pigment (index no. 611-070-00-2; EF no. 405-665-4)

There is a ban on the import, sale and use of this blue azo pigment to dye textiles and leather goods. The ban applies to the pigment itself and pigment solutions or mixtures containing the blue pigment.
Please note that the limit on the level of the pigment permitted as an impurity in a solution or mixture is 0.1 per cent by weight. There is also a ban on the import or sale of these textile and leather goods if they are dyed using the prohibited azo pigments, for example, in countries outside the EU.

Azo pigments that can release carcinogens

The regulations identify 22 specific substances (aromatic amines) prohibited in textile and leather goods that could come into direct contact with the skin or oral cavity for prolonged periods.
There is a ban on using azo pigments that may release one or more of the 22 substances to dye these textile and leather goods. There is also a ban on the import or sale of these textile and leather goods if they are dyed using the prohibited azo pigments, for example, in countries outside the EU.
These prohibitions only apply to the dyeing, import or sale of textile and leather goods that could come into direct contact with the skin or oral cavity for prolonged periods, such as:

  • items of clothing, bed linen, sleeping bags, towels, toupees and wigs, hats, nappies and other personal hygiene items.
  • footwear, gloves, wristwatch bands, handbags, purses and wallets, document folders, chair upholstery, money belts
  • textile or leather toys, and toys containing textile or leather clothing items
  • yarn and fabrics intended for end consumers

The above list is not exhaustive.

Please note that the limit on the level of each of the 22 carcinogenic substances permitted as an impurity in the dyed parts of the leather goods is 0.003 per cent by weight. The Statutory Order specifies testing methods to measure whether this limit is being complied with.

The prohibited azo pigments may cause cancer and harm the environment

The regulations exist in order to limit the use of azo pigments that are harmful to health and the environment. Certain azo pigments may form carcinogenic substances (arylamines) or are very toxic to the aquatic environment.

Importers, distributors and users are responsible

For complying with the ban on the blue pigment:
Anyone who imports, sells or uses azo pigments to be used to dye textile and leather goods, or who imports or sells pre-dyed textile and leather goods, is responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations.

For complying with the ban on azo pigments that may release carcinogens:
Anyone who dyes, imports or sells textile and leather goods that could come into direct contact with the skin or oral cavity for prolonged periods is responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations.

In both cases, the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical inspectors monitor compliance with the regulations and will ensure that illegal situations are brought into compliance. This may involve withdrawing the product from the Danish market, or making the product legal in some other way. Anyone who breaches the regulations may also face a fine.

More information

The full text of the regulations is available (in Danish) at the Retsinformation website:
Statutory Order no. 755 of 15 August 2003 banning the import, sale and use of certain azo pigments, with later amendments (Danish link).
The Danish regulations implement regulations adopted in the EU. The relevant EU directives can be viewed at the EUR-lex website:

Directive 1976/79/EEC Celex no. 31976L0769
Directive 2002/61/EC Celex no. 32002L0061
Directive 2003/34/EC Celex no. 32003L0034
Directive 2004/21/EC Celex no. 32004L0021