Are banned toxic soccer jerseys still being sold to unknowing fans?

It’s bad enough paying $114 for a T-shirt touting your favorite international soccer team, but learning that the overpriced tees have been found to be contaminated with dangerous toxic substances makes you wonder what kind of investment you’ve just made.


Early last month, just as the Euro 2012 football playoffs were beginning, BEUC, the EU’s national consumer organization, reported that its testing of the official football/soccer (your choice) jerseys to be worn by the players and the fans were laced with heavy metals and harmful, endocrine disrupting chemicals used to control odor and mold.

Most were pulled off the official market in Europe within days of the warning, but, according to BEUC, some of the shirts have “disappeared into the black market” and could show up in fly-by-night outlets in other soccer-loving countries.

While walking around tourist vendors in Times Square and near the mall in Washington last month, “official” soccer jerseys for sale almost everywhere. I have no way to know if they were the banned shirts, but there were many for sale along the streets.  I contacted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Friday to see if they’re aware of a problem, but I’ve not heard back yet.


The playoff ended today as Spain beat Italy 4-0 in the final game, yet concerns about the toxic tees continue among consumer advocates.

The only jerseys tested were those of the finalists – Poland, Spain, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Italy, France, Holland, and Portugal. However, shirts of other national teams may also be contaminated with lead and nickel; the odor inhibitor organotin, which is toxic to the nervous system; and the anti-mold agent dimethyl furmarate, which the National Institutes of Health warns can cause violent skin reactions.

The European Commission said several countries such as France, Finland, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom have reported consumers suffered serious health problems after having a direct exposure to Dimethyl Fumarate from other consumer products. Typical symptoms include itchy skin, irritation, redness, burns, and even acute respiratory problems in some serious cases. In 2009, the EC banned the use of this antifungal agent.

The European organization said it notified the U.S. CPSC and similar bodies in other countries of the possible danger from the jerseys it believes were made in China for Adidas, Nike and Puma in China.




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