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New Greenpeace Report Reveals 'Little Monsters' in Children's Clothing

Hazardous chemicals have been found in children’s clothes and shoes made by major brands including Disney, Burberry and adidas, according to a new report, A Little Story About the Monsters in Your Closet, released yesterday by Greenpeace East Asia.

Testing for the investigation was carried out on products made by 12 brands, including American Apparel, GAP, Primark and Nike. The findings showed little distinction between the levels of hazardous chemicals in clothing made for children — who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals when released into the environment — and adults when compared to previous studies.

“This is a nightmare for parents everywhere looking to buy clothes for their children that don’t contain hazardous chemicals,” said Chih An Lee, Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. “These chemical ‘little monsters’ can be found in everything from exclusive luxury designs to budget fashion, polluting our waterways from Beijing to Berlin. For the sake of current and future generations brands should stop using these monsters.”

All 12 brands tested were found to have products containing hazardous chemicals. Among the results:

  • One adidas swimsuit contained higher levels of PFOAs — ionic perfluorinated chemicals (PFC) can cause adverse impacts on the reproductive and immune systems both during development and adulthood — than permitted in the sportswear company’s own Restricted Substance List.
  • Printed fabric on a Primark children’s T-shirt contained 11 percent phthalates — a chemical group often used in the textile industry to soften plastics in some prints; some are known to be toxic to the reproductive system, particularly for development in mammals.
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) — a group of chemicals that break down in the environment to form the toxic chemical nonylphenols (NP), which act as hormone disruptors, are persistent (remaining in the environment for a long time) and bioaccumulative (building up in the tissue of humans and animals) — were detected in at least one article from every brand with high levels in products made by brands including Disney, American Apparel and Burberry.

“Parents, fashion fans and local communities can help end this toxic nightmare by speaking out against polluting brands. Thanks to global people power, some of the world’s biggest brands have already committed to Detox and many of them are already walking the talk towards supply chain transparency and the elimination of the worst chemicals,” said An Lee.

In response to the allegations expressed in the report, a spokesperson for adidas told edie.net that the company is concerned with the "manipulative reporting of Greenpeace," that it wrongly suggests that the tested products pose a health hazard to consumers, which the spokesperson reportedly asserted "lacks any scientifically sound basis."

"The tested product fully complies with all applicable international legal requirements," the spokesperson said, according to edie. "However, we will take the results published by Greenpeace as an opportunity to have the materials verified by an independent test institute again."

To accompany the release of the report, Greenpeace is chronicling a 12-part “Detox Fairy Tale” through hourly posts to its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

China remains the world’s largest textile producer and chemicals consumer and Greenpeace is calling on the government to help stop the use of hazardous chemicals in the textile industry, by publishing a chemical blacklist to be acted upon immediately. The NGO is also asking the country to urge factories to disclose chemical information, in order to facilitate chemical elimination and supply chain transparency and create a level playing field for the industry.

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