EUROPE: Harmful chemicals foul Euro 2012 football shirts
Europe's consumer watchdog has warned football fans could be putting their health at risk after tests showed some team shirts contain harmful and toxic substances including lead - with the Poland strip so contaminated it should be "banned outright".
The findings by BEUC, the umbrella group that represents national consumer organisations from 31 European countries, come less than two days before the Euro 2012 European football championship tournament gets underway.
Research found "worrying levels" of chemicals in official team shirts for Poland, Spain, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Portugal.
Kits from six of the countries - Spain, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, France and Italy - were found to contain lead, while those from Spain and Germany have a lead content that exceeds recommended levels for children's products.
Host country Poland's shirt should be banned outright from shops, BUEC said, as it contains an organotin compound (used to prevent sweat odour) in higher doses than legal limits. Organotin can be toxic to the nervous system.
Nonylphenol - which can disrupt the endocrine system and is banned from waste water because of its harmful effect on the environment - was found in shirts for Spain and Italy.
"Football fans pay up to EUR90 for the shirt of their favourite team. The least they should expect is to have a quality and safe product," said BEUC director general, Monique Goyens.
"It is inexplicable that heavy metals are used in mass consumer products. It is clearly foul play by manufacturers to use substances harmful to both people and the environment."
Europe's REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) legislation is currently being reviewed to include efforts to deal with 'chemical cocktail' effects and plans to deal with endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Sporting goods firm Puma, has been quick to deny the presence of toxic substances in its official Italy Euro 2012 replica jersey - saying independent chemical and physical testing of the shirt found it to be "within all legal regulations."
The amounts of nonylphenolethoxylates (NPEOs) found in the product are considerably below Puma's own limits laid out in the Restricted Substances List and are therefore not dangerous to health and do not represent any health hazards," it noted.
The sportswear firm also said independent testing "did not detect any traces of lead," adding that the manufacturer of the Puma Italy replica jersey holds a valid Oeko-Tex 100 Certificate, which indicates full compliance to the strict Oeko-Tex Standard, which verifies that materials are free from dangerous levels of harmful substances.
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