Dye Industry

Dye Industry

Fact Sheet: Dye Industry – Ranked #10


Estimated DALYs: 430,000


What is the industry?


Dye is used primarily in the production of consumer products, including paints, textiles, printing inks, paper, and plastics. It is used to add color and patterns to materials. Chemical dyes are effective because they create bonds with the fabric that allow for color fastness through washing and exposure. Dye types include acid dyes for coloring animal fibers, basic dyes for use on paper, direct dyes for use on cotton-wool or cotton-silk, and pigment dyes used in paint and inks. Dyes are mixed, synthesized in a reactor, filtered for impurities, dried out and then blended. Along the way many other additives, solvents and chemical compounds are added to instigate reactions and other processes. Dye plants can range from small and informal to large and organized.


What are the pollutants?


The top pollutants by DALYs are lead and chromium and cadmium is a top pollutant by at risk population. Other pollutants include sulfur, nitrates, chlorine compounds, arsenic, mercury, nickel and cobalt.


What are the exposure pathways?


The textile industry is one of the largest sectors globally and produces an astonishing 60 billion kilograms of fabric annually, using up to 9 trillion gallons of water. This massive water use is a key component of pollution. Water is used to clean equipment, as cooling waters and for rinsing and processing dyes and products. Wastewater carries a host of different chemicals from the processing of dyes and The World Bank estimates that 17 -20 percent of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment. Humans then ingest the contaminated water or food irrigated by the water.



What are the health risks?


When lead is inhaled or ingested it is stored in the body and accumulates over time. Lead is designated as a possible human carcinogen, and can cause neurological, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems. Neurological problems include mild mental retardation, decreased IQ, shortened attention spans, loss of executive function, increased dyslexia and diminished productivity and disproportionally affect children. Chromium is a known carcinogen that is proven to cause lung cancer from inhalation and is suspected to cause stomach cancer through ingestion.

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