Chinese blankets recalled over formaldehyde
WELLINGTON, N.Z. - Chinese-made blankets containing high levels of formaldehyde have been recalled across Australia and New Zealand, the product distributor said Wednesday.
The voluntary recall by Australia-based Charles Parsons came two days after New Zealand launched a probe of Chinese-made clothing after scientists found dangerous levels of formaldehyde in woolen and cotton garments.
The New Zealand Ministry of Consumer Affairs said Wednesday it would start a program to test for formaldehyde in clothes next week as part of its probe, while acknowledging the country has no standard for formaldehyde levels in textiles - a concern of retailers.
A range of Chinese exports - from pet food to toothpaste - have come under international scrutiny in recent months. Toy company Mattel Inc. issued its second recall of Chinese-made toys this summer because of lead-tainted paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed by children.
Formaldehyde - a chemical preservative that gives a permanent press effect to clothes and is also used as an embalming fluid - can cause problems ranging from skin rashes to cancer.
Charles Parsons decline to release the total number of blankets involved in the recall but spokesman Mark Bilton said "there's a lot" in Australia and about 800 in New Zealand.
Tests had shown the formaldehyde level in the "Superlux" label blankets was "above the European and U.S. standards. There are no standards in Australia and New Zealand so it's a voluntary recall," Bilton said.
Independent tests had revealed the chemical's content was "less" that 1,500 parts per million - the maximum level permitted in Germany - but "we've decided not to get into those details," Bilton said.
Telephone calls seeking comment were not answered Wednesday at China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, a quality watchdog.
Meanwhile, government research agency AgResearch said it was swamped by clothing companies wanting tests on Chinese imports. Scientists testing clothes for TV3's "Target" consumer watchdog program discovered formaldehyde concentrations up to 900 times the safe level.
Many companies had complained they had no information about what constitutes safe levels of formaldehyde, said Lorraine Greer, AgResearch's textiles division testing laboratory manager.