A scientist tests the outside of a pair of Adidas soccer boots for chemicals. (File photo)
A Greenpeace investigation has revealed that 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil soccer merchandise produced by the three main sponsors of the upcoming event — Adidas, Nike and Puma — contain toxic chemicals, reports Hong Kong's Wei Wen Po.
The investigation by Greenpeace Germany tested related products marketed in 16 markets such as China and Hong Kong ahead of the tournament, which starts on June 12. A total of 33 items were tested including boots, jerseys, goalkeeper gloves, and the official "Brazuca" ball; among them 20 items are targeted at children.
Over 80% of the boots and half of the gloves were found to contain high levels of toxic perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), while 61% of all the samples contained the chemical nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE). One pair of children's soccer boots, Nike Hypervenoms — the adult versions of which is worn by England's Wayne Rooney — were also found to contain 0.3mcg of PFCs, 9,000g of dimethylformamide (DMF), and 37,000g of NPEs per m2, a toxic chemical combination.
The manufacturers have said that their products are safe to wear and that the use of such chemicals, used mainly to increase the flexibility of materials, is within legal limits, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reports.
However, Greenpeace warned that the substances are harmful to the human body and can damage the development of the reproductive and immune system, especially in infants. The global environmental group urged the manufacturers to stop using the substances.
A number of restrictions have already been placed on the sustances found in the products, according to Greenpeace. The investigation found DMF in all of the tested boots and the ball. The chemical is widely applied in the production of artificial textiles and leather, but it easily permeates through human skin and is known to harm the reproductive system. As a result, the EU has listed it as a priority to be regulated.
The Greenpeace report indicates that it is commonplace in the textile and garment industry to use toxic chemical compounds, Wei Wen Po said, adding that a number of toxic substances remain unregulated, without a standard limit for allowed chemical residues. More must be done in the industry to reach a consensus and abandon the use of the chemicals, it said.