China: Parents, students voice anger over toxic school uniformsBy Rita A. Tudela 艾丽塔 Feb 28, 2013 1:35PM UTC
China has many issues with pollution and food safety. Sometimes it is also criticized by NGOs over the stat of its nature and ecosystem. Now, there is another issue that can be added to the list: toxic dyes in school uniforms.
The Education Commission in Shanghai found that the toxic dyes were used by six manufacturers producing uniforms for Chinese children at 21 primary and middle schools.
Among the standards that were not met, one requires that the clothing contain no more than 20 parts per million of aromatic amine dye, according to the national newspaper China Daily.
A dermatologist from the Shanghai Time Plastic Surgery Hospital, Liu Bin, in an interview with the Chinese news agency China.org suggested people “wash new clothes and then put them in the sun to reduce the level of toxic substances.”
A Shanghai primary school student was interviewed on television about the toxic uniforms. He said: “I think my grades are not high because of the toxic uniforms problem.” The reporter asked the little child one more question, if he was angry or not. He answered with a strong: “Angry!”
All the six manufacturers implicated in the scandal have agreed to give a full refunds and to pay compensation.
On the social networks, one schoolteacher wrote, “our education system has been given one more task – to send the suits to the testing authorities and then to send it out to students after quality is confirmed. “
For this teacher, this is a good solution to ease parents’ concerns and make sure students wear safe items. But she also asks: “Is the school the one who has to be responsible for testing the quality?” She goes even further with her concerns: “If we buy food from the market, should we need to send the food to the testing authorities before we eat it?”
Parents also complain about the quality of the uniforms their children have to wear. “Chinese schools unifors all have similar characteristics, they are just made with bad materials.”
For some locals the summer suits are as thin as a rag and they remember when they were in school themselves. “Back at that time, we got the new suits one day and as soon as one of my friends washed it, it just turned into a rag that could be used to do the cleaning.”
Another user complains about how school uniforms easily turn io an ugly color. “Most of the suits among Chinese schools do not have a design. Schools like sportswear, but there is only two sports classes per week, so why is it so “sporty”?”
In the case of lawyer Wu Dong, he thinks it is necessary to first consider whether students have to wear uniforms or not and also who should be in charge of the purchase.
The first case of toxic uniforms first hit the headlines on February 18. That day, the Shanghai education authorities announced that more than 26,000 students were ordered to stop wearing their uniforms.
Now, inspection departments are testing samples of all the primary and high school uniforms in Shanghai before they are distributed for sale.