Poison in children’s clothing is emerging as the latest health risk from China.
New Zealand TV3’s Target programme will this week detail how scientists found formaldehyde in woollen and cotton clothes at levels 500 times higher than is safe.
It questions why there are no New Zealand safety standards for clothes.
National Poisons Centre spokesman Dr John Fountain told the Sunday Star-Times the testing had highlighted an area where little was known in New Zealand about the effects tainted clothing would have on people.
However, international research supported by the World Health Organisation shows exposure to formaldehyde in concentrations of 20 parts per million (ppm) can cause eye, skin and nasal irritations, respiratory problems, asthma and cancer.
The European Union limits formaldehyde residues in children’s clothes to a maximum of 30ppm. The chemical is used to give a permanent press effect to clothes.
Consumers are advised to wash and air all clothes before they are worn for the first time. MORE ON THIS ARTICLE HERE
Formaldehyde in Clothing
By Dr Sharyn Martin March 2005
Have you found a problem with buying clothing? Here’s just one reason why shopping for clothes may not be a pleasant experience. A medical article “Diagnosis and treatment of Dermatitis due to Formaldehyde Resins in Clothing. *Carlson R.M., Smith M.C. & Nedorast S.T. Dermatitis 2005; 15(4): 169-175” has some interesting information that is also useful for those with chemical, (especially formaldehyde), sensitivity.
Textile formaldehyde resins have been used on fabrics since the mid 1920’s by the textiles industry to make wrinkle and stain resistant garments (eg permanent press clothing; stain-resistant). These resins can release significant amounts of formaldehyde. Not a good situation for those with chemical sensitivity.
Types of materials/fabrics most likely to have been treated with formaldehyde resins are:
- Blended cotton
- Wrinkle-resistant 100% cotton
- Shrink-proof wool
- Any synthetic blended polymer (Eg rayon, polyester-cotton)
- Heavy stiff fabrics
- Materials/fabrics treated with textile formaldehyde resins are also used for upholstery, craft work and manchester.
Most people these days certainly do take a degree of satisfaction from purchasing new clothing, however, everyone should be aware that new clothes, towels or even sheets might contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde – the chemical used in biology labs for preserving dead animals and body parts.
There are several reasons that manufacturers use formaldehyde. It is believed that some of the chemicals help keep the fabric stain free, wrinkle free and disinfected. But more importantly, it should be made clear that formaldehyde is considered a carcinogen, a cancer causing agent.