TV report on tainted clothes sparks fear

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2012, 12:00am


A finding of cancer-causing chemicals on children's clothes sparked public fear yesterday, after a report aired on national state broadcaster China Central Television.

The station's Weekly Quality Report investigative programme carried the report, claiming that a recent Beijing Consumer Association test of 63 samples of children's clothes sold on the mainland revealed that nearly a third failed to meet quality and safety standards.

The association said that problems included excessive levels of formaldehyde and other carcinogenic chemicals.

The investigation began after consumers started complaining that their children had developed skin rashes after wearing the clothes.

The samples came from 47 randomly selected companies that make and distribute clothing found in retail outlets, shopping malls and online shopping websites. A total of 21 items failed to meet standards.

One type of unlicensed clothing, called 'Spoiled Dog' and sold at Beijing's Bairong World Trade Centre, contained banned aromatic dyes that are carcinogenic but used to make clothes brighter for longer.

Products from Puruidi, a Beijing commerce and trading company, were found to contain formaldehyde levels more than twice the dangerous level. The pungent, colourless chemical is used to give clothes a 'permanent press' appearance. Often used as embalming fluid and in plastics manufacturing, it can cause cancer, skin allergies and asthma. It can also irritate the eyes, nose and throat.

Some other brands were deemed substandard because the colour of their clothes faded significantly after washing, or because false information about materials was declared to consumers.

The CCTV programme quickly spread online. The Weekly Quality Report has previously reported on several safety problems, including toxic drug capsules, toys and milk powder.

One woman echoed the sentiment of many. 'I suspect the clothes I bought online for my son contain poisonous chemicals and dyes, as the government found some serious problems just by checking a few products,' said Lu Qiaoyin, a mother of a two-year-old girl in Shenzhen.