Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Health risk assessment clears shop towels of toxicity claims

July 3, 2012

ALEXANDRIA, VA — An initial health risk assessment of laundered reusable shop towels by the international environmental engineering firm ARCADIS indicates that using laundered reusable shop towels creates no health hazard, according to a press release.

ARCADIS''s risk assessment indicates that metals that remain on shop towels after laundering are not readily transferred to the hands of workers who use shop towels, the release stated.

According to the release, ARCADIS measured traces of metal in laundered towels and increased the scope of testing to include leachability tests using "synthetic sweat" to estimate residual elements that could be freed when they are used.

This independent research found either zero detectable risk from the transfer of these metals or a level that would be considered insignificant even by comparison to health-conservative values established by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the release noted.

"Reusable cloth shop towels have been used by millions of workers for more than 100 years with no indications that clean shop towels have any impact on worker health," said Joseph Ricci, Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) president and chief executive officer (CEO).

"By measuring leachate, and not simply relying on a modeling format, ARCADIS realistically portrayed the minuscule amount of metals that shop towel users are exposed to, reaffirming our confidence there is absolutely no risk to users. We look forward to gathering more independent data using this comprehensive protocol to increase confidence that clean reusable textiles pose no health risks," Ricci added.

Click here to read the complete release.