Chinese School Uniform Ban: Cancer-Causing Dyes Possibly In Students' Clothes

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Schoolchildren at 21 schools in Shanghai may be wearing uniforms made with a dye that could cause cancer. | Alamy

Chinese schoolchildren attending 21 different schools in Shanghai may be wearing uniforms dyed with carcinogenic chemicals.

Students at the schools on the list were told to stop wearing the clothes starting Feb. 19, the first day of the new semester, according to state-run news agency Shanghai Daily.

The potentially dangerous uniforms were made in July of 2012 by the Shanghai Ouxia garment company, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua. Ouxia has produced school uniforms for Shanghai students for five years.

Over 26,000 uniforms were collected for testing, reports Shanghai Daily.

China Daily writes that, according to the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau, six out of 22 total batches of Ouxia uniforms failed quality standard checks.

According to IBN Live, authorities discovered in July of 2010 that popular clothing brands Jeanswest and Baoxinlai contained the same toxic textile dye that was reportedly discovered recently in the school uniforms, a substance known as decomposable aromatic amine or azo dye.

Easily absorbed through the skin, long-term exposure to the dye can cause cancer, according to the IANS wire service.

In 1999, the European Commission recommended its member nations to severely restrict or eliminate azo dyes. As reported by the IANS, China did not ban the dyes until 2006.

The Shanghai Daily reports that school officials are not mandated to check the quality reports of companies they work with, which allowed "loopholes in supervision and a lack of clear job responsibilities and coordination." And although authorities have threatened to punish anyone not following the ban, some parents apparently did not receive the message about the uniforms, according to Shanghai Daily.

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