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February 18, 2013

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Home » Metro » Education

School uniforms in cancer scare

Cancer-causing dyes have been found in school uniforms in recent tests by Shanghai quality authorities.

Yesterday, the Shanghai Education Commission said it would alert schools to the test results and remind them to choose uniforms for their pupils that are up to standard.

Six out of 22 batches of school uniforms examined by the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision failed quality tests for fiber content or because they contained toxic substances.

Uniforms produced by the Shanghai Ouxia Clothing Co Ltd, a small factory in Pudong, were found to contain banned aromatic amine dyes, which could lead to cancer, the bureau said.

It was revealed that uniforms produced at the factory had appeared on quality blacklists in the past three years for unqualified instructions or having a high pH index, which can lead to skin allergies.

The bureau said it had launched an investigation into the factory and ordered it to halt the production of unqualified products.

School uniforms made at the factory were offered to 30 to 40 schools in Pudong, according to a Shanghai Media Group TV news report.

About 90 percent of local school uniforms are produced by small factories similar to Ouxia and over half of the clothes produced by them are unqualified, it said.

The Ouxia factory declined to disclose a list of the schools it supplied. It said it had imported the problematic materials in question from nearby Zhejiang Province as a decorative material sewed on the uniforms' sleeves. It claimed problems had been found in only 50 samples and they had all been destroyed.

The TV report which came just days before tomorrow's start of the new semester worried parents.

Shanghai mother Liu Liu said: "Why is such a factory still producing clothes for children?"

She said she would not allow her son to wear a uniform before she was sure that it was safe.

The Pudong Education Bureau has urged 21 local schools which purchased uniforms from the Ouxia factory to stop pupils wearing them. The uniforms would be collected and sent for tests.

City regulations allow any factory which produces clothing to make uniforms if they have orders from schools, the quality bureau said. There is also no rule covering mandatory recalls of uniforms.

Shanghai has a price cap on school uniforms - no more than 150 yuan (US$24) for primary and middle school students and no more than 250 yuan for high school students.

According to industry insiders, this is low considering the high cost of labor in the city, so some producers cut corners by using poor quality materials.


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