The danger of AZO dyes in garments

Important considerations when importing garments from Asia

AZO dyes are a group of synthetic dyes used in the textile industry. Although they provide vibrant colors, they have recently come under scrutiny due to health and environmental concerns. This blog highlights the risks of AZO dyes and why importers should pay attention to them.

What are AZO dyes?

AZO dyes are made by a chemical process in which nitrogen-containing groups (azo groups) are linked to spiro compounds. They are popular for their bright colors and cost-effective production. However, some AZO dyes can, under certain conditions, break down into carcinogenic substances known as aromatic amines.

Health and environmental risks

The main concern surrounding AZO dyes lies with their potential to break down into aromatic amines, which can be carcinogenic. Exposure can occur through skin contact with colored substances, especially during prolonged wearing or sweating. Environmentally, the breakdown products of AZO dyes are harmful to water resources and marine life.

Regulations and prohibitions

VDue to the health risks, many countries, including the EU and the US, have introduced strict regulations banning the use of certain AZO dyes. Importers should be aware that clothing containing these prohibited substances will not be allowed on these markets.

Alternatives to AZO dyes in garments

There are alternatives to AZO dyes that are safer for both consumers and the environment. Natural dyes and some synthetic dyes that do not produce harmful amines are becoming increasingly popular as sustainable choices.

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Importing sustainable clothing from Asia: From source to store

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The role of AZO dyes in importing clothing from Asia

Importers play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and sustainability of the clothing they import. It is essential that they choose their suppliers carefully and require that they comply with local and international regulations regarding AZO dyes.


Although AZO dyes are economically beneficial, the health and environmental risks are serious. Importers should be proactive in avoiding these dyes and consider alternatives to ensure the safety of their products.

Do you need help importing sustainable clothing from Asia?

Westwood Sourcing offers expertise in selecting products that meet all health and safety standards. Contact us for more information about responsible clothing imports. 

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Importing sustainable garments from Asia: From source to store
A complete overview of the long journey of garments