Shanghai’s Education Commission has published the results of an investigation into potentially toxic dyes used in school uniforms. The report, posted on the commission’s official microblog, says that six manufacturers, including the Shanghai Ouxia Clothing company, produced uniforms that fell short of national standards.

The city’s quality watchdog says it found aromatic amine dye in Ouxia uniforms that were sold to students at 21 primary and middle schools. A technician at a local test center says China’s national clothing standards require every clothing product sold in the country to have a label saying it meets a series of standards. One of them is that the clothing contains no more than 20 parts per million of aromatic amine dye, even though researchers say it can take ten to twenty years before the substance has an effect.

Jiang Hong, Technical Director, SGS Consumer Testing Services, said, “In fact, there is no big difference if the density of aromatic amine is 19ppm or 21ppm. The dye is not good at all. But so long as it is less than 20ppm, it won’t create much of a problem for human health.”

Liu Bin, Dermatologist, Shanghai Time Plastic Surgery Hospital, said, “A hospital in Tianjin has done research showing that if people are exposed to excessive levels of aromatic amine, they will easily get bladder cancer.”

Liu suggests people wash new clothes and then put them in the sun to reduce the level of toxic substances. One lawyer who has worked with a district government purchasing center suggests the government should consider taking charge of buying school uniforms.

Wu Dong, Lawyer, said, “We need to first consider whether students have to wear uniforms or not and also who should be in charge of the purchase. Should it be the school itself or up to the parents who pay the money to decide?”

The Shanghai Education Commission says uniforms made by Piao’ou, Linxuan, Gengqu, Hafulin and Anqiang have a high PH index, which can lead to skin allergies, or have inadequate fiber content. It says three of the companies have already sold uniforms to more than ten local schools, and says all six manufacturers have agreed to give schools a full refund and pay compensation.