Global testing and certification organization TÜV Rheinland purchased 90 fan t-shirts for teams participating in the World Cup and tested them against the relevant European limits for toxic substances in textiles and for quality. The tests established that more than 30 percent of the fan t-shirts exceeded the limit values for the toxic substances.
Purchased in markets, online and in souvenir shops, the t-shirts are not official FIFA or German Football Association products or t-shirts from the jersey manufacturers. The shirts were tested in TÜV Rheinland’s textile test laboratory in Istanbul, Turkey, for toxic substances and quality based on internationally recognized standards and test criteria.
According to Frank Dudley, TÜV Rheinland spokesperson, “The results of the test were alarming. Every third fan jersey is so full of toxic substances that it should not be sold at all, according to the European regulations, and only every third t-shirt actually passed all of the tests.”
More than a third of the shirts exceeded the European limit for phthalates, which are plasticizers primarily used for prints on textiles. Plasticizers are suspected of acting like hormones and are therefore banned from use in textiles. They can easily be replaced with other substances.
Five t-shirts exceeded the European limit for cadmium. A heavy metal, cadmium can also prove hazardous in higher concentrations and can cause skin reactions. A fan jersey from Belgium even overstepped the European threshold for azo dyes. Certain azo dyes are carcinogenic and are banned from use in textiles.
In 25 of the shirts, the quality of workmanship was also inadequate. The t-shirts presented further problems after washing, with testers pointing out visual changes in 28 products. Only 30 fan jerseys were free from toxic substances and passed all of the laboratory tests, inlcuding the North American t-shirts.
TÜV Rheinland inspects technical equipment, products and services, oversees projects and helps to shape processes for a variety of companies through its worldwide network of approved labs, testing facilities and education centers. Since 2006, the company has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact to promote sustainability and combat corruption.