Hazardous chemicals have been found in children's clothes and shoes made by major brands, and about one third of them are produced in China, according to a report released by Greenpeace East Asia on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Chinese textile industry questioned the report, as the sample was too small.
Greenpeace tested 82 items sold by 12 leading clothing brands including Burberry, adidas and Disney. The result shows that all the items contain hazardous chemicals, especially some potentially hormone disrupting chemicals, which suggests "a serious problem throughout the industry," said the report.
These items were bought by Greenpeace in May and June in 2013 in flagship stores or authorized retailers in 25 countries and regions. They were manufactured in at least 12 different countries and regions, a third of them in China, according to the report.
Test results show that nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE), a toxic substance that can disrupt hormone secretion and has been known to cause fish to change gender, was found in 61 percent of the samples. More than 94 percent of the samples with plastisol prints contained phthalates, a chemical group often used in the textile industry as a softener and known to be toxic to the reproductive development of mammals.
Wang Zhuo, head of the China National Garment Association, questioned the methodology of the report as the sample is too small to reflect the overall situation of the industry, and Chinese factories bear fewer responsibilities in producing them.
"If the foreign-brand clothes produced in China have hazardous chemicals, the brand owners should take relevant responsibilities since Chinese factories make the products according to their requirements," Wang told the Global Times.
Lee Chih-an, detox campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said that toxic chemicals can be found in all types of clothing, from high-end to budget, and that children could be more vulnerable.
"In fact, with a chemicals management system already starting to take shape, China can and should build a strong and healthy textile industry," said Lee.
In 2011, a previous Greenpeace report also claimed that excessive levels of NPE were found in some clothing produced in China, including the domestic Li Ning brand. Li Ning later stated that all levels were within EU standards, crienglish.com reported.