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Traces of poison detected in Chinese garments

Aug '07
After toys, it is the turn of garments. In a shocking revelation by a media agency yesterday, researchers in New Zealand have found highly dangerous levels of poison in children's clothing imported from China.

A chemical called formaldehyde, used in clothes to give it a permanent press-effect, was discovered in wool and cotton garments in levels 500 times higher than what was termed safe, thereby flouting all precautionary norms set by World Health Organization.

Sources from health institutes said contact with formaldehyde in concentrations of 20 parts per million (ppm) could cause eye, skin and nasal irritations, respiratory problems, asthma and even cancer.

They added that the EU restricts formaldehyde residues in children's clothes to a maximum of 30 ppm and bans 22 aromatic amine dyes, which are known carcinogens.

Research also pointed out that 10 percent of clothes tested in China had such high levels of ph that it could damage skin. Buyers are, therefore, advised to wash and air all clothes before wearing them for the first time.

A WHO report on the toxicological effects of formaldehyde on humans has come up with alarming results. The report states, "Predominant signs of short-term exposure to formaldehyde in humans are irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, together with concentration-dependent discomfort, sneezing, coughing, nausea, dyspnoea and finally death."

It further states that "greater prevalence rates of asthma and chronic bronchitis were found in children from houses with formaldehyde levels of 70–140 µg/m3".

"Excess numbers of nasopharyngeal cancers were also associated with occupational exposure to formaldehyde," the report said.

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