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NZ Investigates China Clothes Imports - formaldehyde 900 times legal levels Share on Facebook
New Zealand's government is investigating clothing imports from China after some were found to contain dangerously high levels of the chemical formaldehyde, officials said Monday.

by Associated Press - Thursday, 23 August 2007

The probe was ordered after scientists testing clothes for TV3's "Target" consumer watchdog program discovered formaldehyde concentrations up to 900 times above the safe level in woolen and cotton clothes from China.

Formaldehyde _ a preservative that is used to give a permanent press effect to clothes and also as an embalming fluid _ can cause problems ranging from skin rashes to cancer.

A range of Chinese exports have come under international scrutiny in recent months. Regulators have found tainted pet-food ingredients and toothpaste with potentially dangerous chemicals. Toy company Mattel Inc. issued its second recall of Chinese-made toys this summer because of lead-tainted paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed by children.

"Target" producer Simon Roy said scientists from government agency AgriQuality had tested a variety of new children's and adult's clothes.

"Our results were shocking, ranging from 230 ppm (parts per million) to 18,000 ppm," he said. "Some of the clothes tested have a reading of 900 times the level that actually causes harm."

Ministry of Consumer Affairs general manager Liz MacPherson said it had launched an investigation into the nature and size of the problem. "We're taking some urgent action to investigate it ... We're taking it very seriously," she told National Radio.

"Target" production manager Juanita Dobson said the garments tested were "randomly selected items" that are "readily available from common outlets round New Zealand."

"We are not releasing further details" of brand names or importers ahead of the show airing on Tuesday, she told The Associated Press.

A woman with the media office of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, who gave only her surname Xia, said she had not heard of the New Zealand case. The administration is China's product safety watchdog.

People who answered phones at the China National Garment Association and the China Textile Industry Association also said they had not heard of the case.

Meanwhile, New Zealand cut price retailer The Warehouse issued a recall Sunday for children's pajamas made in China after two children were burned when their flannelette pajamas _ which were labeled "Low Fire Danger" _ caught fire.

Corporate affairs manager Cynthia Church said all children's nightwear sold in New Zealand must comply with rigorous safety standards.

"As a result, the (government consumer watchdog) Commerce Commission is having this particular brand of pajamas independently tested to ensure that they comply with the relevant product safety standards," she said.


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