Products from the two Chinese towns are being sold to the domestic and international market, including countries in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. The environmental advocacy group called upon the Chinese government to ban the use of these chemicals in kid’s wear and to begin eliminating their use.
“Children’s clothing made in the two towns we investigated is sold to 98% of Chinese cities and many other countries, through traditional and the increasingly popular E-commerce platforms. Our investigation is sending a serious signal of caution to the parents of more than two hundred million Chinese children and their foreign counterparts,” said Lee Chih An, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace East Asia.
Greenpeace staff bought 85 children’s garments between June and October of this year, all made in either Zhili Town of Zhejiang Province or Shishi City of Fujian Province. Tests conducted by independent third-party laboratories revealed that more than half of the tested samples detected NPE, a hormone disrupter, while nine in ten items made of polyester tested positive for antimony. Phthalates, which are known for their toxicity to the reproductive system, were also found in high concentrations on two samples.
The children's clothing industry is a one trillion Yuan (about 165 billion US dollars) business with a projected 30% annual growth, making it one of the fastest growing economic sectors in China. Together the two kid's wear manufacturing towns investigated by Greenpeace East Asia produce about 40% of all the children's clothing items made in China. Their products are also exported to countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
“The leaps and bounds made in terms of growth by the kid's wear industry has by far outrun the development of China's chemicals regulation system. Take, for example, the three toxic chemicals found on the samples. There is no comprehensive regulation to control their usage in kid’s wear,” added Lee.
“A national safety standard for hazardous chemicals on kid’s wear has sat in policy makers’ drawers for six years now, and we still have no idea when it will be promulgated,” Lee continued.
China has already grown to become the world's biggest manufacturer of textiles and chemicals, while regulation hazardous chemicals have, in comparison, only just begun.
“With a new baby born in China every other second, the country cannot afford to take any chances on the crucial issue of children's health,” said Lee. “Only by establishing a comprehensive and rigorous chemical management policy can China really safeguard its children.”
Read the full report here.
International Communications Officer, Greenpeace East Asia