Animal fur fashion items contain cancer substances

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Chemical exposure in fur products

Numerous fur articles are contaminated with considerable chemical residues. Wearing the fur products is potentially hazardous to health and contains allergy and cancer-causing substances, according to the results of a current product analysis.

(06.12.2010) On behalf of the international animal welfare organization "FOUR PAWS", the company "EcoAid 15", which specializes in product safety, examined various fur products for toxic residues. The result: fashion items made from animal fur are often heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals, and 5 of the garments tested even exceeded the maximum value of the industry standard for the chemical formaldehyde. The garments are potentially hazardous to health, explained Manfred Krautter, study director of the analysis company EcoAid. The animal protection organization VIER PFOTEN has announced that it will file a complaint with the Federal Office of Consumer Protection.

While the manufacturers advertise their fur articles as "natural products", the reality looks very different, according to the current EcoAid study. The preliminary investigation had already shown that the exposure to the four particularly health-threatening chemicals formaldehyde, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEO), chlorinated paraffins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) could be demonstrated in almost all fur articles. Corresponding chemicals were found in 14 of the 15 fur articles during the preliminary investigation. These 14 articles were then individually analyzed in detail as part of the main inspection by a special laboratory of the Bremen Environmental Institute. It was found that only one of the 14 articles was "moderately polluted", while half of the fur products were "significantly polluted and not recommended". Six of the seven heavily contaminated articles were even classified as "heavily contaminated, potentially hazardous to health and not recommended".

For thirteen fur articles (77 percent) the formaldehyde limit of 30 mg / kg of the EU toy directive for children's textile toys was exceeded. In five samples (38 percent), the maximum value for adults of the industry standards Öko-Tex 100 and SG leather of 75 mg / kg was not met, the scientists at EcoAid explained. Since formaldehyde is toxic, carcinogenic and causes allergies, these fur products are not suitable for children or adults, the experts said when their test results were published. In addition, the scientists were able to demonstrate NPEO in eight samples when investigating the exposure to nonylphenol ethoxylates, the use of which is prohibited in the EU, explained EcoAid. According to the EcoAid examination, the fur hood of a children's jacket was particularly heavily loaded with almost 3000 milligrams per kilogram. The sale of chemical products containing more than 1000 mg / kg NPEO is prohibited in the EU. In two other samples, this limit was reached to 80%. The industry standards for leather and fur (SG leather), which set a maximum value of 100 mg / kg for NPEOs, were exceeded in 6 of the 10 samples, the EcoAid scientists also said.

The fur hood of the children's jacket was most heavily contaminated with both NPEO and formaldehyde, and according to the study authors, the children's clothing should not even have been sold as a chemical product. The fur hood contained 450 mg / kg formaldehyde, whereby the EU limit for textile children's toys does not allow more than 30 milligrams per kilogram. The NPEO exposure was three times the permitted limit for the sale of chemical products, the scientists further explained. "Health damage - especially for sensitive children - cannot be ruled out with such values," emphasized Manfred Krautter from EcoAid.

No limits were exceeded when exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), but since some PAHs are considered carcinogenic and are contained in some fur articles, according to EcoAid caution should also be exercised here. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment's guideline value of 0.2 mg / kg carcinogenic PAH should therefore serve as a sign of health risk for consumers. This benchmark was exceeded in one of the fur articles tested. In the opinion of the scientists EcoAid, the exposure of fur products to chlorinated paraffins should also be critically assessed, since these accumulate in the body and are also suspected of being carcinogenic.

In addition to the four main chemicals identified, the scientists have also identified numerous other potentially harmful chemicals, which were only found to a very small extent, but additionally increase the health risk posed by the furs. Because fur products such as scarves, collars, ear warmers or fur hoods are usually worn directly on the skin, the pollutants can also easily pass into the wearer's body, according to the current study.

In the conclusion of the study developed for the animal protection organization "FOUR PAWS", the experts at EcoAid come to the conclusion that "a large part of the fur articles sold in Germany contains a large number of toxic chemicals", whereby the samples examined often contained pollutant concentrations that can severely affect health. In addition, the increased exceedance of the specified limit values ​​is unacceptable for the experts. "The fur and fashion industry as well as the retail trade must ensure that no dangerous chemicals are used in the fur production and that potentially harmful health effects for employees and consumers are excluded," said the animal welfare organization VIER PFOTEN in the context of the publication of the current test results. Above all, the manufacturers must ensure that the legal limit values, official guidelines and the maximum values ​​of industry standards are observed, the scientists at EcoAid emphasized. The Federal Government and the EU are also responsible for developing limit values ​​for the area not yet covered. Ultimately, the experts at EcoAid and VIER PFOTEN recommend consumers not to buy fur products, not only for reasons of animal welfare but also for preventive health protection. (fp)

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