Half of the items examined in spot checks on the quality of children's clothes in Guangdong Province failed safety tests, the provincial Administration of Industry and Commerce revealed on Monday.
The administration checked 91 batches of clothes at 22 supermarkets in six cities from January to March including Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Investigators put the items through eight tests including examinations for levels of formaldehyde, PH value (to determine acidity or alkalinity) and the veracity of labels. Only 50.6 percent of the clothes passed all the tests.
The most serious discovery was the presence of a harmful dye called aromatic amine in about 10 percent of the clothing.
The dye cannot be washed away and has the potential to cause bladder and urethra cancer if it remains in contact with the skin for extended periods, a source at the administration said. The worst case discovered was 10 times above the legal limit. As the dye has no noticeable smell or particular color ordinary consumers are unable to identify it.
A total of 32 batches of clothes did not meet the national standard for PH value which is between PH 4.0 and PH 7.5. Clothes with higher or lower PH values can damage the skin, the administration explained.
Some clothes contained excessive formaldehyde, which can cause youngsters to suffer bronchitis, insomnia and loss of appetite. It also lowers natural resistance to diseases.
And 30 batches of clothing were found to have no descriptive labels explaining what had been used in the manufacture of a product or they were unqualified.
"The lower-level administrations will assign investigators to inspect markets and stores. Anyone who is still selling dangerous clothes will be fined and all offending items will be confiscated," Hu Yanni, an officer of the administration, told China Daily.
The administration revealed 51 brands of clothes which failed the tests including some well-known names such as Bettyboop, e.baby and Mina.
But despite the warnings some potentially dangerous clothes were still on sale in Guangzhou Tuesday. A number of Bettyboop franchise stores were operating as usual and salespersons said they didn't know the details of the case.
"Since well-known brands may also be producing dangerous clothes I'm very scared and confused about what I should buy for my little boy," said Lin Yingxia, a 25-year-old mother of a newly-born baby. "I think I'll choose white colored clothes."
She said the administration should heavily fine guilty manufacturers and make their names public.
Also on Monday the administration carried out spot checks on food and toys aimed at children. While the most of the food passed the tests, 37 percent of the toys failed. Toys made from cloth had the lowest pass rate, just 16.7 percent, but metal toys were found to be 100 percent good.
On a national level the State Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision recently did similar checks of children's garments produced by 74 companies in nine provinces and municipalities. They found 37.8 percent of the products were not up to standard.
The bureau advised consumers to purchase children's clothes made from soft, permeable materials. People should read the clothing labels carefully before buying.
Experts expressed their concern over the problem. "Children are the future of our country," said Xiao Bin, a professor at Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University.
"The producers of children's articles should stop making dangerous items," he said. "Parents should be more cautious when they're purchasing clothes, toys, food or other things for their children."
(China Daily May 31, 2006)