What are Azo Dyes?
Azo dyes are a class of synthetic organic compounds that are widely used as colorants in various industries, including textiles, food, cosmetics, and printing. They are named after the azo functional group (-N=N-), which consists of two nitrogen atoms connected by a double bond.
Azo dyes are known for their vibrant colors and versatility. They can produce a wide range of shades and hues, and their chemical structure allows them to be easily modified to achieve specific color characteristics. The color of an azo dye is determined by the substituents attached to the azo group.
It is important to note that some azo dyes have been associated with potential health and environmental concerns. Certain azo dyes can release aromatic amines, which are considered to be potentially carcinogenic.
You can see a roundup of articles about aromatic amines, dyes and cancer risk from The Lancet here. Aromatic amines can be absorbed by the skin when they’re used on clothes. Do you want to wear clothes treated with a known carcinogen next to your skin? We don't either.
Additionally, azo dyes don’t biodegrade under natural conditions and they aren’t broken down by standard municipal waste water treatment processes. That means the run-off from textile mills using azo dyes can put aromatic amines directly into the environment, and the dye that leeches out of clothes in the laundry can be passed to the local watershed (learn more about the risk here).
As a result of this risk to human and environmental health, there are regulations and restrictions on the use of azo dyes in certain products, such as textiles that come into prolonged contact with the skin or are likely to be ingested.
This is why the European Union bans the use of azo dyes however, over 40% of textiles in the USA are known to contain azo-dyes.
Why does we use Azo-free dyes?
The whole reason Q for Quinn exists is because we think that there should be more clothing options that are healthy for the people wearing them, and safe for the planet.
It’s why we only work with ethical manufacturers at factories we trust, use the most sustainable fabrics we can find, and insist on only using azo-free dyes.
Working with azo-free dyes makes our manufacturing a little more complicated and makes our choice of color palette a little smaller. If that’s what it takes to make clean clothes that are the safest for our bodies and for the planet, it’s a trade we’re happy to make.
All our dyes are approved by GOTS and are azo-free. By purchasing a GOTS certified product you are ensuring that your clothing is free from the harmful chemicals in azo dyes.
If you are buying a product that claims to be organic, look for the GOTS logo on the packaging to be sure of the authenticity of the claim.
Pictured is our Women's underwear packaging