When you choose clothes for yourself and your child, you may be primarily concerned with the design of tailoring, color, function, material, and so on. From buttons to zippers, clothing accessories of all types, colors, and materials form an important part of every garment. Whether you are a quality inspector for garment factories or an ordinary consumer, do you really understand the hidden dangers of clothing accessories?
REACH Regulation (EU) 2015/628 restriction on lead in consumer products came into effect from last June. The lead content of an article or an accessible part shall not exceed 0.05%. It applies to an article that may be placed in the mouth by children if it is less than 5 cm (< 5 cm) in one dimension or has a detachable or protruding part of that size. Ms. Joyce Zhou, a garment inspection and testing expert with TÜV Rheinland, will detail here the different testing programs required for each accessory and offer advice on how to prevent problems before they occur.
This is the clothing accessory most commonly used in clothing. In addition to its traditional functional role, it is also increasingly used for decorative purposes on clothing as well. Buttons affect the comfort, aesthetics and safety of worn clothing. Extra attention is necessary for children’s clothing to prevent injury.
If a button is not securely attached to clothing it may be pulled off and swallowed by young children. This is as dangerous as small parts on toys.
We must also check the button for sharp edges as it may also cause injury to young children. Whether the surface of the button contains toxic chemical substances needs checking as well because they often come into contact with the mouths of young children.
Buttons generally must undergo a variety of tests based on EN 71-1, CEN/TR 16792 and other related standards to ensure their safety. Such tests include tension testing to simulate actual usage and record how much tension a button can withstand. Tension testing generally requires a button to withstand a certain amount of force (e.g. 90N) appropriate to its size without becoming detached.
The edge of the button must also be checked by touch for dangerous sharp points or burring. As for chemical substances, the manufacturer must ask the button supplier for the chemical testing reports to ensure that the surface of the button does not contain harmful chemicals, or consider replacing their supplier. Even a small button of poor quality can not only inflict massive financial losses on the business but also cause preventable harm to the consumer.
The zipper is another accessory often found in clothing. It can however become a potential hazard especially in children's clothing.
A poor-quality pull-tab of zipper may easily break or be torn off by young children to become a small part. If it comes into contact with young children it may then be swallowed and become a choking hazard. The zipper quality of the pull-tab and the teeth are important. Zipper teeth, especially those of metal construction, may have sharp edges that can cut children's skin. If the zipper contains irritating substances, they may also come into contact with children's skin and cause an allergic reaction.
As pull-tabs are prone to be torn off, twisted, sucked on, or fall off due to poor construction, they must conform to the EN 16732 standard’s testing requirements on zipper component performance and strength. Tension and torque testing are therefore also required to see if it comes loose easily. The edges of zippers must also undergo tactile testing as well to check for sharp points and burring. The tab holder and zipper itself should not contain any irritating substances or allow any transfer of chemical substances. Clothing manufacturers should ask the zipper supplier to provide chemical testing reports to ensure the zipper contains no harmful chemicals.
Sewing thread is another indispensable element during clothing production.
We often concentrate on checking the main fabric for toxic/harmful substances while neglecting the chemical hazard in the sewing thread used to connect the main fabric. Thin sewing threads run through the fabric and lining to hold the entire garment together. Dyeing is a part of the production process for sewing threads so excessive levels of chemicals and azo dyes is a risk that cannot be discounted. Clothing inspections and testing must therefore pay attention to the testing of sewing threads as well. It should also be noted that many manufacturers use monofilament yarns (commonly known as fishing line) for sewing accessories such as labels, decals, and sequins. The advantage of this is its high strength. Its transparency also make sure it doesn't affect the appearance of the clothing. This type of thread is harder as well so loose ends may scratch children's skin. If it is too strong, it can become wrapped around children’s fingers or other body parts and cut off the local blood supply.
Responsible manufacturers or exporters of garments & textiles need to ensure that their product contain no chemicals or cannot harm the consumer in any way. Checks must be put into place at every stage of the textile production process to carry out the necessary quality assurance. Some of the current standards in the clothing industry are named after clothing styles. Clothing accessories do not attract as much attention but this does not mean their safety can be ignored. TÜV Rheinland's professional teams and service network provide manufacturers and buyers with one-stop textile testing services. Summation checks and certification for hazardous substance content and quantitative physical properties can help reduce the liability risks of your textile products while increasing customer confidence in your quality and safety.