WASHINGTON (July 14, 2011) — Even when washed, towels in auto repair shops can carry dangerous concentrations of toxic metals, oil and grease.
That´s the conclusion of a study by Kimberly-Clark Worldwide Inc. that´s also posted on the Automotive Service Association (ASA) legislative website.
The study, performed this year, sampled towels from 26 industrial sites including auto repair facilities were tested in the study, according to Kimberly-Clark, a leading manufacturer of paper towels and other paper products.
After laundering, the towels showed levels of seven heavy metals that were above government toxicity limits. The metals included antimony, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, copper, lead and molybdenum, Kimberly-Clark said.
The levels of heavy metals in the laundered towels were higher even than the unacceptable levels found in a 2003 study, the company said.
The earlier studies motivated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in that year to propose modifications to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to regulate solvent-contaminated industrial wipes, according to the ASA.
Metals can easily be ingested orally through transfer from the towel to the hands to the mouth, the ASA said in a press release. They can accumulate in the body to toxic levels, causing cancer and organ damage, according to the association.
“Most auto shops now use reusable towels and…the trend is unlikely to change until there is a more targeted study of wipes in the automotive shop environment,” it said.