Chinese Clothes Contain Formaldehyde

August 20, 2007 · Print This Article · Email This Post

A New Zealand television show, Target, which investigates consumer complaints, is expected to air a segment later today detailing their investigation into Chinese-made cotton and wool clothing which contains up to 900 times the level of formaldehyde known to adversely affect human health. The investigation began with a consumer complaint that a child developed a skin rash after wearing the clothes.

Formaldehyde Resin Used in Making Furniture

Formaldehyde, used to give a “permanent press” appearance to clothes, is also used as embalming fluid and in plastics manufacturing, and can cause skin allergies, cancer and asthma. It also irritates the eyes, nose and throat at low levels. Due to the links between formaldehyde and leukemia and nasal and nasopharyngeal cancers, the World Health Organization classified the chemical as a known human carcinogen in 2004. While formaldehyde can affect people at a concentration of 20 parts per million (ppm), “Target” producer Simon Roy said that the show’s tests of childrens’ clothing including pajamas, tee shirts, and shorts found “shocking” formaldehyde levels, from 230 ppm to 18,000 ppm. Roy also said that scientists from AgriQuality, a government agency, had tested a variety of the new childrens’ and adult clothing. The clothing was randomly selected from clothing commonly available in New Zealand retail outlets. Some of the stores included the Warehouse and K-Mart.

Additionally, New Zealand’s Commerce Commission is testing childrens’ flannel pajamas which were labelled as “low fire danger” but which caught fire and burned two children. Officials in China said they had not heard of the formaldehyde-riddled clothing in New Zealand. China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which is China’s product safety watchdog, had not heard of the claim, nor had people contacted at the China Textile Industry Association or the China National Garment Association.

Meanwhile, China has begun airing a weeklong television campaign called “Believe in Made in China” which is aimed at restoring trust in Chinese products and which defends China’s safety standards. Strangely, the show can only be seen in China. Preaching to the choir? In the first program, which aired last Sunday, the economic channel of China Central Television (CCT) featured an interview with Li Changjiang, director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, who said the recent alarming news about Chinese products is “demonizing China’s products.” Changjiang also said: “Personally, I believe it is [a] new trend in trade protectionism. Although recalls are necessary, it is unfair to decide that all products made in China are unqualified.”

Read another post about products made in China.

Photo credit: University of Southern Mississippi

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