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August 28, 2013

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Banned toxic dyes found in school uniforms

Five schools have canceled orders after five batches of school uniforms sent by their manufacturers for quality checks were found to contain banned toxic dyes, the city’s quality watchdog said yesterday.

The substandard uniforms were made by three local producers and one from out of Shanghai.

The companies have been told to suspend the sales and production of uniforms until they meet the national standard, said Shen Weimin, deputy director of the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau.

They are among the first batch of uniforms to be detected with problems since a “double check” system was established last semester, requiring both the manufacturer and the school have to send samples for tests.

The system was created after the quality watchdog found uniforms made by a local firm contained high aromatic amine dyes, a cancer-causing substance, in February.

The Shanghai Institute of Fiber Inspection has received 647 batches of school uniforms sent from schools and companies. Three batches of school uniforms failed quality tests for fiber content and a high pH index, posing health hazards, Shen said.

A high pH index can lead to skin allergies and make people vulnerable to bacteria.

The uniforms made by Shanghai Xuzhi and Shanghai Zhizheng were found to contain fewer fibers than what was listed on the label, while Shanghai Youyifeng Apparels Co had a high pH index.

The uniform results were immediately sent to the Shanghai Education Commission, which then passed them on to the district education bureaus and the schools that had placed the orders.

The five schools are Shanghai High School, the No.1 Primary School affiliated to Shanghai Normal University, Qingpu Experimental Middle School, Shanghai Xilin Middle School and West Shanghai Experimental School. The commission said all the five schools canceled their orders.

With the new semester set to begin next Monday, some of the students may not be able to wear the new uniforms on the first day of school.

Schools have been told not to distribute uniforms to students until they get the test results.

A circular issued by the commission said schools should communicate with parents over uniforms. The price of uniforms should not exceed 300 yuan (US$49) per set.

Some parents said it does not matter if students wear uniforms or not.

Tian Rongjun, principal of Shanghai Zhuyuan Primary School, said: “I think students should wear uniforms to cultivate team spirit and avoid vying with each other.”

Students at Zhuyuan Primary School were asked to wear uniforms from Monday to Thursday.

“Children can wear their own clothes on Friday when we will arrange extracurricular activities for them to show their personality,” Tian said.

Tian said students pay about 800 yuan to buy five sets of school uniforms, including two summer suits, two spring/autumn suits and a winter suit.

If the students are from needy families, they will get the uniforms for free, according to Tian.



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