Greenpeace testing of leading brand clothes shows most contain hormone-disrupting chemicals

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Press release - 2011-08-23
Beijing – A new investigation by Greenpeace has found residues of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the products of 14 leading brands including Adidas, Li Ning, H&M and Abercrombie & Fitch. The presence of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) in clothes bought and manufactured in locations all over the world shows the use and release of hazardous chemicals is a widespread and pervasive problem.

Adidas store in China

"NPEs break down to form nonylphenol (NP), which has toxic, persistent and hormone-disrupting properties," said Greenpeace Toxics Campaigner Li Yifang. "It mimics female hormones, alters sexual development and affects reproductive systems. NP is known to accumulate in animals, and it can build up in food chains. Even at low levels, it represents a big threat to the environment and human health."

Li added that the use of NPs and NPEs in manufacturing is banned in the European Union, and that this year they were placed on China's list of toxic chemicals severely restricted for export and import. "This is not just a problem for the developing countries where textiles are made," she said. "Since residual levels of NPEs are released when clothes are washed, they are in effect creeping into countries where their use is banned."

Greenpeace commissioned an independent, scientific analysis of 78 products sold in stores across 18 countries. Launched today in Beijing, the study finds that two thirds contained NPEs. The results reinforce the findings of Greenpeace's Dirty Laundry report in July. The report, researched and investigated over a one-year period, uncovered evidence that two factory complexes supplying major clothing brands are discharging toxic chemicals into China's Yangtze and Pearl River deltas.

As a result of Greenpeace's global "Detox" campaign, which has included a global striptease and "re-branding activities" at the companies' stores, both Nike and Puma have publicly committed to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products by 2020.

"The commitments made by Nike and Adidas prove that eliminating toxic chemicals is not only feasible but desirable," said Li. "If Adidas and Li Ning don't catch up in the Detox race, they will be left behind and disappoint their customers. The major brands can no longer avoid their responsibility to ensure that the environment, their customers and people across the world are no longer threatened by the release of toxic chemicals."

The full Dirty Laundry 2 report is available here.

Media Contacts:

Simon Pollock, International Communications Officer

Mobile: +86 139 1151 5405

Li Yifang, Toxics campaigner

Office: +86 10 6554 6931*169

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