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Hazardous Chemicals Found in Children’s Apparel and Footwear

Research by Greenpeace Germany revealed that more than half of the children’s clothing sampled from a number of discount retailers, including Aldi, Tchibo and Rewe Penny, contain chemicals known to be dangerous to health and the environment.

Independent labs tested 26 articles of clothing and footwear available for sale in supermarkets across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Children’s shoes proved to contain the most chemicals, including sport sandals, clogs and sneakers with increased concentration of dimethylformamide (DMF), which is considered toxic to reproduction and harmful to skin. Greenpeace said most of the clogs and plastic sandals that were examined have a very strong odor—often an indication that the shoes contain naphthalene.

Especially high concentrations of potentially harmful substances were measured in samples from Austria and Switzerland. In Vienna, children’s shoes purchased from Hofer were found to be heavily contaminated with DMF. Booties purchased at Aldi Süd in Munich and a pair of shoes with a flashing light in the sole from at Aldi Nord in Hamburg also revealed a high level of DMF contamination.

Other products Greenpeace warned about were baby one-pieces and children’s raincoats containing phthalate DBP, which is known to disrupt hormone systems, and rain boots containing carcinogens.

Due to their low-cost, promotional nature, Greenpeace said textiles from supermarket chains are particularly prone to contamination by harmful substances. However, the organization noted that toxic-free fashion doesn’t have to be a luxury, naming retailers like U.K.’s Marks & Spencer and Switzerland-based Coop as examples of healthy fashion-fashion business models.

In response to Greenpeace’s report, retailers including Aldi Süd, Tchibo and Lidl, have said their products are not harmful to health and pose no risk to consumers. Lidl told Spiegel Online, “Regardless, we will accept the test results as an opportunity to work together with our suppliers to a further reduction of chemicals.”