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When buying a new outfit, most people don’t consider the process that went into tinting that vivid red shirt or colorfully patterned dress. But dyeing clothes requires massive amounts of water, energy and chemicals. So companies are working on new ways to color textiles that are both environmentally friendly and cost-effective, reports an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.
In addition to being resource-intensive, textile dyeing often dumps large quantities of chemicals into wastewater from mills and dye houses in places like China, India and Bangladesh, writes Senior Editor Melody Bomgardner. These substances can turn rivers startling colors and may also affect human health, which recently prompted the Chinese government to shut down many dye factories until they could undergo environmental inspections. The resulting chemical shortage, as well as the desire for greener processes, has prompted textile manufacturers to seek alternatives to traditional ways of coloring clothes.
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