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View Full Version : Formaldehyde in Chinese Clothing


Susan P.
08-23-2007, 05:08 AM
Report here tonight stemmed from an NZ investigation into formaldehyde levels in Chinese clothing. The NZ team took a spiderman kids shirt, kids pj's, a woman's pair of pants and a men's pair of wrinkle resistant pants and tested them. The safe level for F is around 20 parts per million and one of the items had 16,000!!

This chemical can cause severe rashes and swelling and so on and many of you have discussed this and wondered why you can't find the cause. Perhaps this may be it.

The deficiency in the report was explaining why the chemical is used to begin with and whether repeated washing will remove it. Most people have 80% or more of their clothing made in China so if you or your kids have been having rashes you may want to see whether a change of brands and country manufacture may change the issue. The trouble is of course SO MUCH is made in China now. I know stores..many.where that is all that is available.

Perhaps people can recommend US, UK and Aus made lines etc?

stitchwitch
08-23-2007, 09:01 AM
On a side note, my husband has been complaining about Chinese junk for a long time. He works in the auto aftermarket parts industry and has complained for years that China will knock off a product that has already been made and is successful, use inferior materials and then sell it super cheap because that's what people want. People think it's the same thing as the original and complain the original is too expensive. Then people gripe when it breaks. Just now the US is realizing this. Just this week more Chinese made dog treats were recalled from WalMart because of Melamine. I for one take a good look now at the stuff I buy. I will never knowingly buy another Chinese made product as long as I live. The US needs to wake up and realize that our well being is being compromised by allowing this to continue.

marykz
08-23-2007, 09:03 AM
interesting- it is nearly impossible to find made in the USA clothes these days.... which is a shame. I wonder if it is part of the dying/sizing process for the fabric before sewing? We usually wash everything before we wear it the first time.

I think some of the "boutique" lines of kids clothes are made in the usa, but unfortunately the prices are ridiculous for clothes that will be covered in paint, marker and dirt. (my little one dives right into everything at school. you just have to look at her clothes to see what they did that day.)

Susan P.
08-23-2007, 09:35 AM
Stitchwitch...Since I heard about most aquaculture practices in Asia (basically filthy water used), I refuse to buy frozen prawns from there and I agree re the equipment and tools. I know people who've bought a whole wrench set thinking they got a bargain and the tools have cracked and broken really quickly. Someone bought me cheap secateurs and they warped on the first cut. I heard about the dog treats..terrible.

MaryKZ.. This concerns me also. 'Bonds' was a very well known Australian brand and I think nowadays the items are made offshore (tho I would need to check). I guess I could have googled the info re the formaldehyde but I'm back writing for a kid's show and I can only do so much research in a day! :) I agree that onshore items are bizarre in terms of pricing. Our governments' needs to return to some industry subsidy I think and change some welfare laws to allow those on welfare to work more casual hours than they can.

I DO want to point out that my comments are in no way directed at individual Chinese people - but to corporate Chinese governance and our own govts not carefully looking in to what products overseas countries are selling to us. That latter comment applies across the board. Perhaps it's the case that overseas exporters need to pay a fee for one of our research companies to thoroughly investigate product and to conduct regular spot checks. I certainly hope our govt's are not subsidising or loaning money to these problematic business even via the international bank! I cannot understand why the Chinese have not been smart enough to realise what the backlash was going to be sooner or later.

Perhaps MaryKZ we need to return to home sewing machines and simple patterns - at least for basic kid's clothing.

Yarnlady
08-23-2007, 09:42 AM
Perhaps MaryKZ we need to return to home sewing machines and simple patterns - at least for basic kid's clothing.The same chemicals are in the fabrics you buy. That is one of the reasons washing fabric before you cut and sew is suggested. It used to be to shrink the fabric fully, but it's rare now that fabric needs to be pre-shrunk.

Susan P.
08-23-2007, 09:45 AM
Yarnlady..do you have a site reference that tells what range of chemicals are in fabrics? So the Form. is used to prevent shrinkage..hmmmm

Susan P.
08-23-2007, 09:48 AM
Well..is this a case of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing as a very quick simple search located this immediately..

http://www.asehaqld.org.au/Chemical%20Sensitivity/formaldehyde_in_clothing.htm

So this appears to be a fabric industry standard..??

Any other sources? I'm going to contact the TV show about this as they should be following up..but I want to know whether washing gets rid of it. I always wash after buying and before wearing...no matter what the item.

Susan P.
08-23-2007, 09:56 AM
I just emailed the show and suggested fabrics from a couple of well known stores were also tested. This suggests washing is very important before you wear clothes. I just assumed everyone would wash clothes before wearing..does anyone here just put them on?:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/233417/should_you_wash_new_clothes_they_could.html

Susan P.
08-23-2007, 10:00 AM
Just realised that first link suggests washing only helps a little bit.

Gosh, haven't we, as a society, traded off so much of our health for the sake of issues like 'wrinkle free' and so on. Without knowing it as consumers in the main, we have threatened our well being for such superficial issues. Sad really.. :waah:

hunterjenn
08-23-2007, 10:04 AM
Yarnlady..do you have a site reference that tells what range of chemicals are in fabrics? So the Form. is used to prevent shrinkage..hmmmm

No, the pre-washing is/was used to prevent shrinkage. Not the formaldehyde. :thumbsup:

ETA: There are chemicals in nearly everything we buy these days. While it may be concerning, it shouldn't cause a scare--many media reports are aimed at overdramatizing situations that we've been living with all our lives. :shrug: I'd be interested to see more stats on the safe levels of formaldehyde.

Susan P.
08-23-2007, 10:09 AM
hunterjenn..the first site I listed would appear to disagree. When I was a little girl my mum would always pre-wash but then people went through a stage of wanting to ensure non shrinkage etc. Form. seems to offer than answer..at a price.

marykz
08-23-2007, 10:23 AM
I have been dusting off my sewing skills- I figure I can make some t shirts, right? But I think even the fabric I buy at JoAnns and similar mass market fabric shops would come from china anyways, and woudln't obviate the chemicals. (if using these chemicals is an industry standard, as it seems to be.)

Chemicals are everywhere, but I think the jury is out on a lot of them as to whether we are better off with or without them. I'm not advocating shunning modern conveniences- just being informed. Making choices for your own family and your own use based on available information is the best anyone can do.

And I don't think China is the evil enemy, just an easy target. Sweatshops and cheap labor come from many places, and I'm willing to bet that similar problems with lead, contaminants, etc will be found in other manufacturing countries once people start really looking at them.

Personally, I don't shop at Wal-Mart or look for the cheapest price of everything. I look for reasonably made items (clothing, textiles, tools, home goods) and I am willing to pay for quality. I try to buy at locally owned stores before chain stores. (not always possible) I try to support local farmers/ growers even if their produce/ meat/ dairy is more expensive. But, I am blessed that I have the financial means to do so. Not everyone really has that choice.

hunterjenn
08-23-2007, 10:34 AM
hunterjenn..the first site I listed would appear to disagree. When I was a little girl my mum would always pre-wash but then people went through a stage of wanting to ensure non shrinkage etc. Form. seems to offer than answer..at a price.

Huh--my bad! I just thought you'd misunderstood yarnlady's post, but I guess I did! Sorry! :)

hunterjenn
08-23-2007, 10:37 AM
But I think even the fabric I buy at JoAnns and similar mass market fabric shops would come from china anyways, and woudln't obviate the chemicals. (if using these chemicals is an industry standard, as it seems to be.)

It is an industry standard--regardless of where the fabric comes from. With the exception of a few "organic" fabrics, you'll find formaldehyde on pretty much everything in the fabric store.

Interesting discussion!

Ellieblue
08-23-2007, 01:01 PM
I used to work in the shoe Dept. and I noticed that the stock room would be full of the formaldihyde smell. Someone told me that all the container ships coming in to the ports are fumigated with the gas before being unloaded. Don't know if this is true or myth - maybe Mason would know.:sun:

KnittingNat
08-23-2007, 02:04 PM
As much as i agree with the subject of cheap, non-quality products from China and other countries, I must say that there are industries in which China produces some of the finest products. My DH collects diecast car models and one of the mostly appreciated and expensive brands is Franklin Mint, their models are made in China, but are real examples of craftsmanship, are assembled by hand and cost accordingly (150$ and more). I guess it depends on how much the company is willing to pay the workers and how much it cares for it's own reputation. Besides, the companies probably think that everyone need clothing, so who will care?
I do have a lot of fabrics for sewing, i think i'm going to put everything through the washer:hair:.

hunterjenn
08-23-2007, 03:36 PM
If nothing else, it'll save your hands. Remember Silver's mysteriously flaking nails? Formaldehyde. When I worked as a seamstress, my hands and nails were *always* dry. :shrug:

stitchwitch
08-23-2007, 03:44 PM
I guess China is going to start testing textiles, etc. now.
http://www.bharattextile.com/newsitems/2005575

Might want to choose the fork at the restaurant for awhile also. :ick:

Limey
08-23-2007, 07:26 PM
[quote=stitchwitch;942602]I guess China is going to start testing textiles, etc. now.
http://www.bharattextile.com/newsitems/2005575

Well, that's good news anyway. I was thinking about the toys that were withdrawn last week and then I read on the link that toys only account for 1% of Chinese exports. It's absolutely mind-boggling the amount of goods produced there.

Flip over your keyboard to see where it's made and if you have a quick shufty around the house, it's amazing the number of items you'll come across that are Chinese imports.

It's little things which remind you of how the world is rapidly changing - I wanted some good quality cotton bedlinen a couple of months ago and ended up getting Egyptian cotton sheets and pillowslips. It was the only cotton I could find after scouring I don't know how many shops.

Anyway, here's hoping quality control improves - and I mean the lives of ordinary Chinese people, as well as their exports.

hunterjenn
08-23-2007, 09:49 PM
:psst: Egyptian cotton is a particular *type* of cotton--I'm not sure it's even exclusively grown & manufactured there--but regardless, it's quite highly regarded. :hug: You got good sheets!

Susan P.
08-23-2007, 09:54 PM
That first url I offered suggests fabrics made in the US have Form. also so I am now guessing this is an industry standard and China has been targeted because it either makes so MUCH product OR their levels are higher than elsewhere. One must remember that some of these countries don't have the same safety net checks our industries do (even tho from time to time our own industries also fail at these things).

I looked at a line of towels the other day and to be honest, the Egyptian cotton ones seemed no different in look and feel to the same line brand ones made in China. They were more expensive tho! I do agree Limey that Egyptian cotton sheets can be glorious. I only like cotton sheets in summer and avoid poly blends.