Challenge Accepted

ARMEDANGELS
Detox Denim & Öko-Test

Hey everybody!

If we can agree on one thing, then probably the fact that we all love denims. Denims are timeless companions that last a lifetime. The older they are, the better they get – just like fine wine. Denims are unique. They have character. But denims are a dirty business that’s part of an industry that is even dirtier. That is why, three years ago, we put the Denim market under the microscope - only to find three gigantic problems. And we tackled them:

  1. Traditional cotton farming is subject to monocultures, forest clearing and harmful pesticides.
  2. We were shocked by the high water consumption and waste water contamination occurring during production.
  3. No industry wreaks more havoc than the denim industry when it comes to the topic of finishing: Bleaching, sandblasting, baking, varnishing – often with the aid of numerous hazardous chemicals and techniques, frequently under inacceptable working conditions.

The facts are shocking – and they do not only leave their mark on nature but also on the people that produce these articles as well as the ones wearing them. To us it was obvious we had to change something about that. We had to do a better job. It took us 18 months to find the right partners and manufacturers for this endeavour. Then we were finally able to show off our first GOTS-certified denim jeans. A denim that’s produced in line with our expectations. How we named it? DETOX DENIM.


We are proud of what we’ve achieved. We want to demonstrate that there is another way. We want to change things and we’ll go as far as it takes.

In May, the German consumer magazine Öko-Test tested one of our denims alongside other jeans from different brands. Today we want to share these results with you.

As part of their analysis, Öko-Test conducted a series of tests. When testing for harmful substances, Öko-Test found aniline. This comes as no surprise as aniline is the basic building block of any indigo pigment that’s synthetically produced. The outcome only means that chemically bound aniline impurities occur in the indigo pigment on the jeans. Something which is still commonplace nowadays. Öko-Test found an aniline value of 5mg/kg in our Ingaa denim. This value is extremely low and lies below the limits set by GOTS (100mg/kg) and Ökotex100 (50mg/kg – with skin contact – and 20mg/kg – babies). But what’s even more important: In its bound form aniline is neither harmful nor dangerous to human health. In plain English: DETOX has always been DETOX and will continue to stay DETOX - without a doubt.

However, the Öko-Test result does motivate us to dig deeper and to find new solutions. We are not quite there yet and therefore to us this means:

Challenge accepted! We take the Öko-Test result as an incentive to make it even better. Our goal is to reduce the aniline content even further to be able to eventually eliminate it completely. In order to achieve this, we want to find solutions in cooperation with the best dyers out there. Together. For us and the ones to come.

We have nothing to hide. Here you find our Q&As.

If this still leaves you with unanswered questions, don’t hesitate to contact our sustainability manager Julia at:
julia.kirschner@armedangels.de

Best wishes,
ARMEDANGELS


Quick ‘n dirty
  • 1. Öko-test found 5mg/kg aniline in our Ingaa denim.
  • 2. Aniline is the basic building block of every indigo pigment that’s synthetically produced. Aniline impurities are firmly bound in the indigo crystal and still commonplace nowadays.
  • 3. The bound aniline impurities pose no risk to human health.
  • 4. Ingaa is GOTS certified and fulfils all strict GOTS and Ökotex100 requirements.
  • 5. Even so, we don’t shy away from accepting this challenge! Our goal is to reduce the aniline content of our blue jeans even further to be able to eventually eliminate it completely.

Armedangels, Anilin & Öko-Test: Q&A

1. WHAT IS ANILINE?

2. WHAT DOES ANILINE HAVE TO DO WITH DENIMS?

3. DOES ANILINE POSE A DANGER TO HEALTH?

4. WHAT HAPPENED SPECIFICALLY?

5. HOW DOES ARMEDANGELS DEAL WITH THE RESULT?

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. WHAT IS ANILINE?

Aniline is a chemical used in the chemical industry primarily as a starting material for the synthesis of dyes and synthetic fibres, but also for the production of synthetic rubber and medicines.

 

2. WHAT DOES ANILINE HAVE TO DO WITH DENIMS?

Aniline is the basic building block for the synthetic production of indigo. Indigo is the dye that has always been used to dye blue jeans; and genuine "blue jeans" or "denims" still are to this day. Our denims are also dyed with indigo. During synthesis, aniline impurities still occur today, which means that aniline residues are firmly enclosed and bound in the indigo crystal. Depending on the quality of the dye, the level of aniline contamination varies (1% - 0.1%).

 

Is it possible to dye blue denims without indigo and aniline?
Yes and no. It is also possible to dye cotton blue with other dyes. But on the one hand, these dyes cause other problems, on the other hand, it is no longer a real denim with its characteristic properties. Very often sulphur dyes are used, which have even a higher colour fastness to rubbing, but this is exactly the reason that leads to the fact that jeans hardly change any more. They don’t "live" like real denim jeans should.

 

3. DOES ANILINE POSE A DANGER TO HEALTH?

If the aniline is present in a firmly bound form and cannot be released by sweat, saliva, UV radiation, etc. when worn or washed - as is the case with our denims - there is no health risk. Our Ingaas can continue to be worn without concern. In free form and a high dose, aniline is a health hazard for all organisms. For low concentrations, there is as yet no uniform scientific opinion on the toxicological hazard potential of aniline.

The independent chemical agency ECHA classifies the substance as very toxic for aquatic organisms. According to ECHA, aniline is suspected of being carcinogenic. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC (part of the WHO) classifies aniline in group 3, i.e. "not classifiable with regard to carcinogenicity for humans". The strict ÖkoTex Standard 100 sets a limit of 50 mg/kg for aniline for Class II (with skin contact) and 20 mg/kg for Class I (baby). The GOTS standard has a limit of 100 mg/kg.

 

 

4. WHAT HAPPENED SPECIFICALLY?

In May, consumer magazine Öko-Test examined one of our denims along with jeans of other brands. Öko-Test carries out a large number of tests for this purpose. On the one hand, material properties such as colour fastness to rubbing and washing and size change have been tested. On the other hand, Öko-Test carries out tests for harmful substances, including aniline.

In our Ingaa denim (stone-wash), Öko-Test found 5 mg/kg aniline. Since synthetic indigo is produced from aniline, there is always residue of aniline in the indigo (usually below 1.0%). In the indigo dye the aniline is firmly enclosed (in the crystal lattice like in a cage) and can only be released again by destroying the crystal lattice. Therefore, the indigo molecules always contain firmly bound aniline impurities on the fibre. As is the case now with our Ingaa denim.

In the test for harmful substances of Öko-Test, the indigo molecules are reduced with sodium dithionite in a slightly acidic solution (pH = 6) and at approx. 70˚, thus destroying and dissolving the fixed indigo crystals. This results in the release of the bound aniline molecules, which can then be detected if the detection limit is exceeded (test methodology according to DIN EN 14362-1).

 

What does the finding of 5 mg/kg aniline in the test result of Öko-Test mean?
The result only means that bound aniline is present in the indigo pigments on the jeans. It shows that the indigo was produced synthetically. This is not surprising. A value of 5 mg/kg is very low and far below the limits set by GOTS and Ökotex100.

Does ARMEDANGELS carry out its own tests?
Yes, we do regular tests for harmful substances to check if our strict standards are met according to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS 5.0). Ingaa's material was most recently tested for in January 2019, which included testing for aniline. At that time no aniline (neither free nor bound) was found in the product. The determination limit of the test laboratory used is 10 mg/kg (below this value the laboratory cannot determine the exact concentration of a substance).

Why do the test results differ from ARMEDANGELS and Öko-Test?
Our test for harmful substances was carried out in January 2019 according to GOTS criteria, and aniline could not be detected. The basis is the limit of determination of 10 mg/kg, below which our independent institute was not able to prove analytically quantifiable aniline. Since the limit value of GOTS for aniline is 100 mg/kg, accordingly, a test with a determination limit of 10 mg/kg is suitable to ensure compliance with the requirements of GOTS. Öko-Test was able to test 5 mg/kg aniline in our jeans. That is 0.0005%. Öko-Test uses a test laboratory for the tests, which tests for aniline with a detection limit of 1 mg/kg.

Is the tested pair of pants GOTS-certified? What are the requirements of GOTS?
Of course, our Ingaa denim is GOTS-certified and meets all requirements of the strict standard. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), also recognized by Öko-Test, and the International Association of the Natural Textile Industry (IVN) currently offer the strictest internationally valid guidelines for natural textiles and set an aniline limit value of less than 100 mg/kg (0.01%) (Here is the official statement from GOTS on aniline). The value of 5 mg/kg (0.0005%) measured by Öko-Test clearly undercuts these guidelines. The ÖkoTex Standard 100 sets even stricter limits than GOTS for aniline and defines a limit of 50 mg/kg for Class II (with skin contact) and 20 mg/kg for Class I (baby). Specifically, this means that both GOTS and ÖkoTex100 standards meet all requirements.

5. HOW DOES ARMEDANGELS DEAL WITH THE RESULT?

Challenge accepted! We take the result of Öko-Test as motivation to make it even better. After Öko-Test provided us with the results, we had not only our Ingaas but also all other denim fabrics tested once again - by two independent testing institutes. The aim is to ensure that we cannot detect any free aniline in our trousers and, of course, reproduce the test result of Öko-Test.

The outcome was not surprising: Free aniline could not be detected in any test. The test results of Öko-Test could be confirmed for Ingaa and another pair of trousers. No aniline could be detected for any other models. However, the laboratories used were still unable to test below the detection limit of 5 mg/kg. Öko-Test works with a detection limit of 1 mg/kg.

We were inspired by the result and really dug deep into the subject of aniline. We talked to chemists, dyestuff suppliers, dyers and experts. So far it was not possible to eliminate aniline completely, but we have now learned that the values of impurities can be reduced significantly (approx. factor 10) and that there is a first purified and so-called aniline-free colorant on the market. Of course, we are in contact with the supplier and tests are ongoing. We know that aniline in the form bound in indigo does not pose a hazard to the wearers and the environment. We also know that when used properly there is no danger in production. But we also know that not in all producing countries a "proper" application is ensured, and we are convinced that everything that is not necessary is best not in it, no matter how dangerous or harmless it is.

Therefore, it is our goal to further reduce and even completely eliminate the aniline content in our denims. For this we want to find solutions together with the best dye suppliers in the world. So our DETOX Denim remains DETOX, without any doubt.