The Austrian authorities are investigating several importers of leather and textile products to determine whether their goods are made using dyes "strongly suspected" of causing cancer. The action follows the imposition of a ban on several classes of azo dye from the beginning of this year. The dyes are thought to release carcinogenic substances upon prolonged contact with the skin and are currently the subject of new legislation being prepared by the EU (ENDS Daily 9 April). A survey of the Austrian market published last week showed that 4% of the products tested contained the banned dyes. Although the survey was carried out before the ordinance banning the dyes came into force, Thomas Jakl of the Austrian environment agency told ENDS Daily that the relevant bodies were made aware of the law well in advance. He added that the ban was based on a voluntary code of practice already used by the Austrian textiles and leather industries and that the products containing the banned dyes all came from Asian countries. If the investigation shows that the products are still reaching the market the companies will face severe legal action, he said.
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