A Little Story About a Monstrous Mess

Investigating the toxic residues in children’s clothing from China’s largest manufacturing towns

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Publication - 2013-12-17
Greenpeace has investigated the hazardous chemical residues present in children’s clothing. A set of 85 clothing items from Zhili Town of Huzhou in Zhejiang Province and Shishi in Fujian Province - two large production bases for children’s clothing in China - were tested for nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), phthalates, antimony and other toxic chemicals. Zhili Town and Shishi City account for approximately 40% of China’s total production of children’s clothing, with the latter having already expanded its sales to overseas markets.

Consecutive investigations commissioned by Greenpeace International in 2011 and 2012 exposed the presence of hazardous chemical residues in the clothing products of many global fashion brands, including some samples of children’s clothing.

Therefore in 2013, Greenpeace launched a follow-up study to further investigate the hazardous chemical residues present in children’s clothing. A set of 85 clothing items from Zhili Town of Huzhou in Zhejiang Province and Shishi in Fujian Province - two large production bases for children’s clothing in China - were tested for nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), phthalates, antimony and other toxic chemicals.

26 samples were tested positive for NPEs with the detection rate reaching more than 50% and the highest concentration hitting 1,800 mg/kg. Two samples were tested positive for phthalates with a concentration above 1,000 mg/kg, and the highest reached 1,7000 mg/kg. And more than 90% of the samples, all of which contained polyester fabric, tested positive for antimony, with the highest concentration reaching 208 mg/kg.

Zhili Town and Shishi City account for approximately 40% of China’s total production of children’s clothing, with the latter having already expanded its sales to overseas markets. The manufacture of children’s clothing deserves special attention, yet there are currently no adequate regulations in place to strictly oversee the use of hazardous substances in these products in China. China needs to improve its chemical management regulations to ensure the elimination of these chemicals at source so as to better protect children.

The problems of Zhili and Shishi are just snapshots of the problem in textile industry. Only by establishing proper chemical management regulations, can hazardous chemicals be completely removed from children’s clothing. 

Download the report below:

A Little Story About a Monstrous Mess

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