The Consumer Council in Hong Kong has recently found that the uniforms of two secondary schools contain cancer-causing chemicals from dyes.
The uniforms contained more than eight times the safe level of 4-amino azobenzene, a chemical that was banned in Europe and Japan some years ago, yet is still permitted in mainland China.
At least two of about 40 suppliers in the city had sold uniforms containing the toxic chemical to the schools.
Both suppliers have since said that they have stopped selling the uniforms, adding that the toxic material came from mainland China, which has only banned dyes containing more than 20mg per kilogram of 4-amino azobenzene, according to reports.
The consumer watchdog in Hong Kong said that these dyes can release carcinogenic substances called aromatic amines, which were found in the waist belt of a school dress and in the trimmings of a blouse. In a press release, the council said that the finding was “most unsettling and unsatisfactory.”
These uniforms were tested for their durability after washing, the pH level of the material, and the presence of toxic substances such as fluorescent brighteners and formaldehyde.
Meanwhile, the council also found eight uniforms that contained traces of formaldehyde, a cancer-causing industrial chemical. However, the amounts were lower than the maximum amount allowed under China’s regulations.
The Times inquired with Macau’s Consumer Council as to whether it checks local uniforms in the region, however, it noted that there are no planned tests currently.
“The Consumer Council is concerned about the report, however, we do not have any planned tests for the relevant items,” the Council’s representative replied.
“For consumers’ safety, the Council has published periodic or random “Consumer Alerts” to remind consumers that new clothes must be washed thoroughly before putting them on. LV