Background: Formaldehyde is a chemical used in several textile production processes, such as hardening of fibers and antimold finishing. However, it has varying effects on humans, such as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, wheezing, chest pains and bronchitis. In the midst of COVID-19, individuals are using various fabrics for face mask production, which may be containing levels of formaldehyde that can negatively affect their health.
Methods: This study investigated formaldehyde levels in fabrics on the Ghanaian market to determine compliance to standards set by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) with the aid of experimental procedures. Thirty-two (32) different brands of fabrics were selected for the investigation. Formaldehyde levels were determined using a spectrophotometer (DR6000). Data were analyzed using the Statistical Product and Service Solutions (SPSS) for Windows version 22. The mean performance attributes and the formaldehyde levels of the sampled fabrics were determined before and after washing. Inferential statistics (Analysis of Variance and Paired Samples t-test) at 0.05 alpha levels were used to determine significant differences between and among the groups involved.
Results: The fabric samples tested positive for formaldehyde before and after washing, with some exceeding the standard limits set by the GSA before washing. Significant differences existed between and among the samples with regard to formaldehyde levels as well as weight and weave types of the samples and formaldehyde levels.
Conclusion: Washing significantly reduced the formaldehyde levels in the fabrics. It is recommended that Ghana Standards Authority takes a further look at the fabrics on the Ghanaian market to ensure manufacturers comply with set standards and consumers are also advised to wash their clothes at least once before use to reduce the level of impact formaldehyde resin may have on them.
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