Wed, Jan 08, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Dangerous chemicals are used in detergents: HUF

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Stricter regulations are needed over the chemicals used in the nation’s laundry detergents, the Homemakers United Foundation (HUF) said yesterday.

The foundation last month showed that permethrin, a substance widely found in pesticides and other environmental agents, was found in a Taiwanese brand-name detergent.

Yesterday, it said other chemicals used as anti-bacterial agents, anti-fungicides or preservatives have also been added to the detergents.

“We have found a total of 36 laundry detergents on the market that claim to be ‘anti-bacteria,’ ‘anti-mite’ or ‘anti-mildew,’” said foundation secretary-general Huang Chia-lin (黃嘉琳). “Despite our requests by mail and our volunteers’ calls to the products’ toll-free customer lines, a majority of manufacturers either declined to say what chemicals are added or gave unclear answers.”

Of those that disclosed the anti-bacterial or anti-mite agents they use, six brands said they used triclosan or triclocarban, substances that have been recently identified by the US Food and Drug Administration as posing potential health risks, while not being very effective at curbing bacteria.

“And there are those who used thiabendazole [commonly used as a fungicide or parasiticide], glutaraldehyde [disinfectant], parabens [preservatives] and methylchloroisothiazolinone [MCI, used as a preservatives],” Huang said.

The HUF said that an article in the latest edition of the magazine published by the Consumers’ Foundation found that benzyl benzoate, which is used to treat lice and scabies infestations, has also been found in some detergents as an anti-mite agent.

Huang said there has been no risk assessment on how these chemicals might affect human health and the environment when used daily in laundry detergents, and authorities have been passing the buck among the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Environmental Protection Administration, the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), none of which claimed responsibility for oversight.

The foundation said that when it began to request manufacturers to disclose the chemicals they used in their anti-bacteria and anti-mite agents, the Taiwan Soap and Detergent Manufacturers Association wrote to the foundation that “the government will not demand disclosure as the request is legally baseless.”

The MOEA’s Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection, which was finally agreed to be the agency responsible for oversight, said the bureau has held committee meetings on the issue.

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