Yet another good reason to buy Australian made school shoes
From Melbourne's newspaper The Age May 20, 2012, link here, http://m.theage.com.au/national/scho...519-1yxpj.html
A TOXIC chemical banned in Europe for causing serious skin irritations has been discovered in imported children's school shoes sold in Australia.
Tests conducted three months ago by the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries revealed that 25 per cent of the shoes it bought from major retailers contained the toxic chemical DMF (dimethyl fumarate).
The tests follow a 2009 report by the council that showed batches of children's school, sports and casual shoes contained numerous harmful chemicals that have also been banned in other countries.
The council submitted the results to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which is responsible for product safety. But the council's senior adviser, Andreas Shimkus, said the watchdog had been slow to act.
DMF is widely used as an anti-mould agent in leather shoes, handbags, clothing and furniture. But its harmful effects, including serious burns, dermatitis and respiratory problems, were revealed in 2008 by British television and newspaper reports. In one case, a baby suffered a case of blisters and burns after coming into contact with DMF sachets placed inside Chinese sofas.
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The revelations caused the recall of thousands of sofas and other products and resulted in numerous product liability claims across Britain.
The European Commission banned imported products with DMF in 2009, and shoes containing the chemical were recalled from countries including France, Spain, Poland and Finland. Now similar sachets are being included in boxes of footwear coming from China.
Dimethyl fumarate - which works by evaporating and being absorbed into a product to stop mould - particularly permeates plastics.
A spokesman for the ACCC said it has not received reports of injuries associated with DMF exposure.
But the textile and fashion industry council has warned that there is no monitoring of chemical levels in imported products.
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Mr Shimkus said that did not apply to just the school shoes.
''Textiles, clothing and products including shoes are not subject to any investigation,'' he said. ''We are doing not enough to stop this.''
The National Toxics Network, a national advisory group on chemicals, has also called for an ''immediate investigation'' to identify all products in Australia that might contain dimethyl fumerate.
A senior adviser for the network, Mariann Lloyd-Smith, a scientist specialising in chemicals, said that Australia was at risk of becoming a dumping ground for contaminated products.
''We are seen as an easy target. Products are sent here because they know they can get away with it,'' Dr Lloyd-Smith said.
''We need to act quickly to ban those chemicals, which have been withdrawn elsewhere, yet are still allowed here.''
The 2009 report on children's school shoes, titled An Imported Chemical Footprint, warned that ''standing kids for seven hours a day, five days a week in footwear that contains harmful substances is an obvious risk which should not be accepted''.