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One woman reported getting chemical burns from her ballet flats, and a new shirt gave a schoolboy hives.
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The Australian consumer watchdog CHOICE has raised concerns about the regulation of chemicals in imported clothes, after collecting testimonies from people who suffered skin reactions and even chemical burns.
Australia Associated Press says that the report outlined how one woman suffered burns when her new ballet flats got wet. Subsequent tests by Monash University in Melbourne revealed the shoes had been treated with a fungicide and rubber accelerator that was released when the shoes came into contact with water.
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In another case cited by NineMSN a 10-year-old boy developed large hives and welts after wearing a new school shirt before it had been washed.
More than 90% of Australia's textiles, clothing and footwear come from overseas, CHOICE says, but only 50,000 substances fall under the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS). In comparison, more than 300,000 harmful substances used in the production of textiles are regulated by the European Union.
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"It would be impossible to import some of these chemicals to use in Australia but there's no problem in having the same chemicals arrive in an order of T-shirts from overseas," the CHOICE spokeswoman Ingrid Just is quoted as saying by News.com.au.
One issue highlighted in the report was the use of the mold prevention chemical dimethyl fumarate (DMF). The substance has been linked to eczema and is banned in the European Union, but is commonly found in furniture, clothes and footwear in Australia.