TAIWAN - Greenpeace yesterday warned that 63 per cent of clothing samples from 20 name-brand clothing lines contain toxic chemicals that can do harm to wearers.
Director of the Greenpeace Toxicant Prevention Project Lai Chien-ju said that the environmentalist group had conducted tests on 141 random clothing samples from 20 top clothing brands in 29 countries, including Taiwan.
According to the test results, 63 per cent of the 141 samples contained Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) and plasticizers; cancer-causing aromatic amine was also found in some samples.
At least one clothing sample from each of the 20 brands was found to contain NPE, said Lai. Ten of the brands have stores in Taiwan, and Lai urged these companies to promise to provide toxicant-free products by 2020.
Lai said that two samples bought in Taiwan were a men's T-shirt from Levi's and a pair of children's pants from ZARA, with both testing positive for NPE.
Among the 20 brands tested by Greenpeace, ZARA is the only brand with nine out of the 10 samples found to contain NPE, plasticizer and aromatic amine, according to Lai.
Clothing samples from Tommy Hilfiger and Giorgio Armani contained the highest amount of plasticizers, according to the tests.
The PR manager for ZARA Taiwan, Lan Ying-lun, responded that the company's head office comes up with all production and promotion policies, and that no ZARA products are made in Taiwan.
ZARA Taiwan will collect all information related to the tests and report it to its head office, Lan said.
Lin Ja-liang, head of the Department of Nephrology and the Division of Clinical Toxicology at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said that even though there are no regulations against industrial NPE usage in Taiwan, he still appealed for all clothing manufacturers not to use the chemical as it may lead to health problems.
Dermatology specialist Chao Chao-ming suggested that people should pay attention to the country of origin and material tags when shopping for clothes.
Chao also suggested giving new clothes a thorough wash before wearing them.
20 Top Name Brands Tested by Greenpeace
Giorgio Armani, Benetton, Calvin Klein, Diesel, ESPRIT, GAP, H&M, Jack & Jones, Levi's, MANGO, Marks & Spencer, Meters/bonwe, ONLY, VANCL, VERO MODA, Victoria's Secret, ZARA, C&A, Blazek, Tommy Hilfiger.
What is NPE?
According to Lai, NPE is an artificial chemical that can decompose into Neptunium (NP), which is a persistent and bioaccumulative chemical which can interfere with the endocrine system when entering a human body. Many countries have had restrictions against NPE usage for almost 20 years. It is commonly used in detergents, emulsifiers, wetting agents and defoaming agents.