Monday, August 20, 2007

Another Chinese Import For Parents to Worry About-Children's Clothes

This is getting absolutely ridiculous. I just saw this article from Australia finding extremely dangerous levels of formaldehyde and other chemicals in children's clothes imported from China (which can cause cancer).

Just a few days ago, I purchased a stylish winter coat for my young daughter; she loved it, demanding that I take off the store labels and that she put on her "fancy" coat and hat. I looked at the coat label and it said, "Wash Before Wear" and "Made in China". The "Wash Before Wear" I had not seen before on children's clothing, and I actually for once acted on my parental neurosis and returned it to the store, asking if the salesperson had any idea why this label was on the coat. (And, first, I looked at on the Internet for a possible explanation and found one mention of formaldehyde being put on clothes that are imported from Asia so that they maintain their look upon arrival.) The salesperson said the instruction was unusual, that she has seen it in jeans, so that you don't get the blue color on your body, but that she never looks at labels, and that I should call the company. Needless to say, I returned the coat, but for another nice-looking one made in a different Asian country, without an instruction to "wash before wear." But so much of our children's clothes is made in third-world countries where who knows what kind of chemicals are used.

Now I just checked the new jeans that I bought for my son's first day of school tomorrow. They're from the Gap, and the label says "Made in Cambodia" and also recommends "Wash Once Before Wearing." At the Gap store, I disregarded the import of the wash before wear instruction because that salesperson's words wear in my head (wash so the blue color doesnt get on your body) but is there formaldehyde in these jeans that are going to go on my little son's body? Does anyone know (feel free to comment).

Add this to the new announcements from the Baby Bargains editors that we shouldn't buy Avent bottles because of the kind of plastic they use, with the number 7 on the bottom of the bottle; there is a chemical, BPA, in it, thay may cause cancer. Parents on the Baby Bargains bulletin boards are scouring their cabinets, looking underneath their plastic containers, even one woman wondering if she should stop eating hummus. It's hard, if not impossible, to know where the right line is between being a conscious parent trying to protect one's child, and knowing and worrying too much. But it's also disconcerting and troubling that our government is doing so little to monitor imports that children are using and being exposed to, and that the plastics industry was directly in charge of studies that said a few years ago that this kind of plastic is safe to use.

It all comes down to money, to the bottom-line. It's profits for big industries that is the cause of dangerous chemicals being put on our children's toys and clothes and food imported from China. And it's the influence of the plastic industry trying to protect its bottom line that lead to consumers not knowing the truth about the dangerous chemicals in plastic. So the only way to effect change is for consumers to somehow effect the industries' bottom line.

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