The highest concentrations of harmful substances were found in shoes

The highest concentrations of harmful substances were found in shoes

Toxic chemicals have been found in clothing and footwear sold by nine supermarkets and retailers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, including Aldi, Migros and Tchibo.

In an examination of 26 products, Greenpeace Germany found more than half of the samples contained harmful substances above precautionary levels.

The highest concentrations of harmful substances were found in the shoes. In all 11 of the children's shoes that were tested, most of which were plastic sandals or clogs, tests revealed harmful substances such as dimethylformamide (DMF), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) or 2-phenyl-2-propanol (2PP).

DMF can be toxic to reproduction, while some substances in the PAH group are considered carcinogenic and 2PP has possible adverse effects. 

Samples from Austria and Switzerland in particular were found to have high concentrations of potentially harmful substances. At Hofer, children's shoes (Hanbury sabots) had 270 mg/kg of DMF - significantly above the recommended level of 10 mg/kg.

Also in Vienna, clogs from Penny and pool shoes (Simpex) from Interspar had a high 2PP content - 580 mg/kg and 370 mg/kg respectively.

Booties (Alive) from Aldi Süd in Munich and a pair of shoes with a flashing light in the sole (Walkx Kids) bought at Aldi Nord in Hamburg, meanwhile, were each contaminated with 190 mg/kg of DMF.

In addition, the environmental pressure group found a thermal rain jacket from Tchibo in Hamburg to contain perfluorinated carboxylic acids, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a substance Greenpeace describes a "very high concern".

Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which can also have adverse effects on human health, were found in infant shirts from Penny in Vienna and Migros in Zurich as well as a set of pyjamas from Interspar in Vienna.

As part of its Detox campaign, Greenpeace has been calling on apparel firms to remove toxic substances from its supply chain. Among the 20 companies having already committed to the initiative are Marks & Spencer and H&M.

Both have started to incorporate closed-loop textiles into their supply chain by launching take-back programmes and offer upcycling collections.

Click on the following link for further insight on toxic sustances within the apparel and footwear supply chain: ANALYSIS: Hazardous chemical removal a key industry issue.