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In Vitro Cytotoxicity of Textile Dyes and Extracts of Dyed/Finished Fabrics


Päivi Kopponen, Mirkka Asikainen, Riitta Törrönen, Kaisa Klemola, Jyrki Liesivuori and Sirpa Kärenlampi

The aim of this study was to investigate whether an in vitro test can give an indication of the overall toxicity of fabric extracts, and whether this toxicity correlates with the toxicity of the dyes and finishes used. Thirteen textile dyes and dyed/finished cotton fabrics were tested by using the Hepa-1 cytotoxicity test. Black sulphur and two blue reactive dyes were the most toxic, with IC50 (the concentration at which the total protein content was 50% of the protein content of non-exposed cells) values of 40–65µg/ml. The least toxic dyes, the black and yellow mix reactive dyes, had IC50 values of 825µg/ml and 703µg/ml, respectively. There was no correlation between the toxicities of the dyes and the fabric extracts; the extract from naphtholdyed fabric was the most cytotoxic. These results strongly support the hypothesis that the toxicity of a fabric extract cannot be predicted directly from the toxicity of the dye itself. The results also showed that flame-retardant and water/soil-repellent finishes can alter the cytotoxicity. In vitro tests, as exemplified by the Hepa-1 cytotoxicity test, could provide useful information for developing new ecotextiles.