New Zealand Studies 'Toxic' Chinese Clothing

Authorities in New Zealand say they are investigating a report that Chinese-made children's clothing sold in the country is heavily contaminated by formaldehyde, a dangerous chemical that is known to cause cancer.

A consumer-watchdog program on New Zealand TV3 television reports that analyses of Chinese-made woolen and cotton clothing showed levels of formaldehyde up to 900 times the levels considered safe for human exposure.

A producer of the TV report says New Zealand government scientists who tested the children's clothing found that the least-contaminated garments contained 11 times as much formaldehyde as the maximum safe level.

Authorities in Wellington say Monday the New Zealand Ministry of Consumer Affairs has launched an urgent investigation of the formaldehyde report which is to be broadcast Tuesday evening on TV3's "Target" program .

Formaldehyde, often known as an enbalming solution, is used as a finishing agent on fabric to make clothing crease-resistant.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union have regulations tightly limiting the amount of formaldehyde contained in consumer products.

The new report from New Zealand adds to concerns about the quality of many Chinese-made products. Last week, the Mattel toy company stopped selling many toys made in China because they had been coated in lead paint or contained small magnets that would be hazardous if swallowed by young children.

American families who previously purchased those Mattel products were asked to return them. The toy recall campaign follows similar warnings about toxic contamination of toothpaste, seafood and pet food produced in China.