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Sunlight caused environmental toxins in gloves

During a routine inspection of a shop to ensure that their inventory complied with applicable environmental legislation, it became apparent that several pairs of gloves hanging close to the shop window had high levels of hexavalent chromium, a prohibited substance in the EU.

Snickers Workwear, the gloves’ manufacturers, risked significant fines when high levels of a prohibited substance where discovered in their product. The company was both surprised and angry; they had no idea that they had used the substance in any of the many manufacturing processes that their gloves undergo. And yet, testing clearly showed that it was present. How would this have happened?  The company approached to RISE to conduct a thorough investigation.

Sunlight altered the chemicals

After some solid detective work, RISE was able to solve the conundrum. The gloves had been tanned using trivalent chromium and re-greased with fish oil, whereupon the trivalent chromium was converted to hexavalent chromium – which explained the phenomenon. The fact that the gloves were also exposed to sunlight, which can also cause the formation of hexavalent chromium, did not improve matters.

Handbook via the Chemical Group

The results of the investigation where firstly that Snickers Workwear now knows what they need to do to avoid the problem and, secondly, the production of a guide/handbook. This has now been made available to all companies that are members of the RISE Chemical Group, so that they can avoid ending up in the same situation.

“It’s a shame that we ended up in that situation but we are pleased that it came to light so that we could recall the products, as we do not want our customers using unsafe products. We greatly appreciate this collaboration with RISE that allowed us to discover what had happened; above all, we are pleased that we could improve our requirement specifications for leather,” says Henry Lundberg, R&D Manager at Snickers Workwear.