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Azo Blue Colourant
Azo Blue Colourant

REACH Annex XVII (Formerly known as Directive 2003/3/EC)

Following the publication of the EU Azo Dye Directive 2002/61/EC, the EU Commission published another directive (2003/3/EC), restricting the marketing and use of "blue colourant". This meant that, in addition to restricting all azo dyes that could break down with the release of one or more of the 22 prohibited amines, this directive also specifically prohibited the use of what is known as the "azo blue" colourant.

The reason for the restriction on the use of the blue colourant was not because the dyestuff could break down and form one of the carcinogenic amines. It is restricted because it has a high aquatic toxicity, is not easily degradable and reaches the environment via waste water from the dyeing processes.

To make matters more complicated, whilst the EU have published test methods for measuring the 22 prohibited amines, there is no recognised test method for the azo blue colourant.

To summarise, the real point of the Directive was to stop the azo blue colourant from being imported into the EU as a raw material, and to stop it being used in the EU to dye textiles. If someone dyes fabric with azo blue dyestuff in a country outside the EU, there is no restriction on that product being brought into the EU.

This is in complete contrast with the other prohibited azo dyes - these cannot be used to dye any fabrics that will subsequently be brought into the EU.
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