Clothing, preserved

formaldehyde.jpgFormaldehyde may bring back fragrant memories of dissecting frogs in high school, but you wouldn't want to rub the stuff onto your skin -- or your children's. But a New Zealand study found that clothing made in China and shipped overseas may effectively be doing precisely that:

New Zealand's government is investigating clothing imports from China after some were found to contain dangerously high levels of the chemical formaldehyde, officials said Monday....

"Target" producer Simon Roy said scientists from government agency AgriQuality had tested a variety of new children's and adult's clothes.

"Our results were shocking, ranging from 230 ppm (parts per million) to 18,000 ppm," he said. "Some of the clothes tested have a reading of 900 times the level that actually causes harm."

For the sake of comparison: the study found levels as high as 18,000 ppm, but research supported by the World Health Organization demonstrates that concentrations of just 20 ppm can cause eye and skin irritation, respiratory problems, and cancer. Formaldehyde is added to lend garments a "wrinkle-proof" finish.

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