Soccer shirts off shelves over toxic chemical fears

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 January, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 January, 2000, 12:00am

Sportswear giant Nike has ordered a popular style of football shirt off Hong Kong shelves over claims they may contain a toxic chemical.

A 'couple of hundred' of the yellow and black shirts - part of German side Borussia Dortmund's home strip - have been sold to soccer fans, who were yesterday advised not to wear them.

The alert followed a German television report that the jerseys contained tributyltin, a heavy metal compound used in anti-barnacle paint for ships.

The chemical is also used to kill bacteria and quell the smell of sweat, but British and Dutch tests show it causes mutations in marine snails, and the World Wildlife Fund is calling for its global ban.

At high levels in humans, tributyltin is believed to cause neurological problems, damage the immune system and harm the liver.

William Chong Kam-fu, product line manager for Nike Hong Kong, said all of Nike's makers were barred from using the chemical, but that tests were being done to check the safety of the shirts.

He said about 20 sports shops in the SAR carried the shirts and all had been asked to withdraw them from sale as a precaution.

We cannot prove now whether the story by German TV station ARD is valid, Mr Chong said. 'Nike Germany has conducted its own test with all the Borussia Dortmund jerseys and the result is there's no tributyltin found in them.' The company will carry out a joint test with the TV station. Nike's hotline is 2751 4988.