Composite wood products also use formaldehyde
China’s massive export industry has provided ginger contaminated with a pesticide, fish food raised in untreated sewage and toothpaste containing a solvent – and now children’s clothing containing the poison formaldehyde.
According to a report in the Auckland, New Zealand, Sunday Star Times, an investigative team from the city’s TV3 Target program has detailed how scientists found formaldehyde, a chemical preservative, in wool and cotton clothing at levels hundreds of times higher than levels considered safe.
The chemical has been used as an embalming fluid and in clothing to preserve a “permanent press.” It also has been used over the years in foam padding, and is used extensively in composite wood products in construction.
Research by the World Health Organization has concluded that exposure to formaldehyde in concentrations of 20 parts per million can cause eye, skin and nasal irritations, asthmas and cancer.
However, the testing for the television program resulted in some startling finds.
“Our results were shocking, ranging from 230 ppm to 18,000 ppm,” Target producer Simon Roy told the newspaper, following tests on a girl’s top, school shorts, a Spiderman T-shirt and pajamas.
“This is almost unbelievable. Some of the clothes Target tested having a reading 900 times the level that actually causes harm,” he said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes formaldehyde as “a colorless, pungent-smelling gas, [that] can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million). High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans.”
Roy said the children’s garments also were tested for their ph level, a measure of acidity which generally creates no significant impact if the results are between 4 and 7.5.
But Roy said a pair of pants and a girl’s top both had ph levels above 7.5.
Auckland mother Raewyn Rasch told the newspaper she was horrified to learn of the potential danger.
“What really annoys me is that, for mothers, kids are always coming up with scratches and marks and rashes. You ask them what they’ve been eating and where they’ve been. You wouldn’t expect it to be the clothes they’re wearing,” she said.
She said her son’s slacks, labeled 100 percent cotton, caused him a rash even after multiple washings.
Green MP Sue Kedgley called the contamination of products a serious situation.
“It demands a parliamentary investigation of our complete lack of consumer protection for most products in New Zealand,” she said. “Technically they are supposed to comply with the Consumer Guarantees Act but how would anyone know if it’s being systematically breached when no one is looking or doing any monitoring?” she asked.
Ministry of Consumer Affairs general manager Liz MacPherson said an investigation was being launched.
“We’re taking it very seriously,” she told Radio New Zealand. “We’re taking some urgent action to investigate it, which will involve undertaking some sample testing of products from across the market.”
Dr. John Fountain, a spokesman for the New Zealand National Poisons Center, said the effects of such tainted clothing wasn’t clear yet.
A spokeswoman at China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, told the Associated Press the agency, China’s watchdog over product safety, wasn’t aware of the problem.
The worldwide brouhaha over millions of children’s toys covered with paint containing lead hadn’t even subsided when this arose, officials noted.
WND earlier reported on the contamination found in ginger, when the U.S. Food & Drug Administration advised the public not to eat fresh ginger from China. That’s because certain batches were found to contain the hazardous pesticide Aldicarb sulfoxide.
Among problems reported so far:
- Foods imported for consumption by American humans may be, in some cases, as dangerous as the pet food. A WND study found the vast majority of imported foods rejected as unfit for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration are from China. FDA inspectors report tainted food imports intended for American humans are being rejected with increasing frequency because they are filthy, are contaminated with pesticides and tainted with carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs.
- China, the leading exporter of seafood to the U.S., is raising most of its fish products in water contaminated with raw sewage and compensating by using dangerous drugs and chemicals, many of which are banned by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The deadly contaminant found in Chinese-made toothpaste – diethylene glycol – is a solvent used in antifreeze that killed 107 Americans when it was introduced in an elixir 70 years ago.
- A resurgence in lead-poisoning cases in U.S. children is being linked to Chinese imports – toys, makeup, glazed pottery and other products that contain significant amounts of lead and are being recalled by the CPSC on a regular basis.
- Imports from China were recalled by the CPSC twice as often as products made everywhere else in the world, including the U.S., showed a WND study of 2007 government reports.
- The rising cost of fireworks, almost all of which are made in China, as well as safety concerns and human rights concerns about the conditions of those manufacturing the products resulted in a decrease of Independence Day displays in the U.S.
- WND revealed there are currently no safety standards established between the U.S. and China on food, drugs and other imports. As a result of WND’s series, members of Congress began working on setting new standards.
- WND revealed how China is shipping to the U.S. honey tainted with a potentially life-threatening antibiotic as well as adulterating exports with sugar.
The scandals are having a major impact on Chinese society, too.
“The food security problems have impeded Chinese agri-products and food many times in international trade, and damaged our national credibility and image,” Sun Xianze, director of food safety coordination at the State Food and Drug Administration, said recently.
“The occurrence of food safety incidents or cases not only affects the healthy development of the whole industry, but also may impact upon economic and social stability.”