Nike hit by toxic chemical scare

German stores withdraw football shirts after claim of tributyl tin contamination

Sportswear manufacturer Nike has been hit by a chemical scare after German television documentary Plusminus reported that football shirts made by the group were contaminated with traces of tributyl tin (TBT). The marine anti-foulant chemical is being phased out worldwide because of its endocrine disrupting effects on marine life (ENDS Daily 25 November 1999).

Three German department stores withdrew thousands of Nike shirts from sale yesterday. Nike launched immediate investigations, early results from which suggested that TBT had not been used in the manufacture of any shirts, according to press reports. Neither Nike's European office in the Netherlands nor its US headquarters were able to comment when contacted by ENDS Daily today.

* Meanwhile, a UK newspaper yesterday called for an urgent government review of chemical policy after laboratory tests it commissioned showed that fat cells taken from one of its reporters contained "a cocktail of hazardous chemicals". The Daily Express claimed the laboratory would have found up to 500 man-made chemicals had it not looked only for pesticides.

In an angry reaction, the national Chemical Industries Association (CIA) accused the newspaper of "scaremongering," and said it had overlooked actions taken to reduce risks from synthetic chemicals. "This article could put people off eating fruit and vegetables," the group said. "It is certain that such a reaction would result in more cancer," while "there is no evidence at all...that minute quantities of synthetic chemicals cause cancer".

Follow Up:
Nike Europe, tel: +31 35 626 6453. See also the Daily Express article Cocktail of toxins in us all, as well as the response from the CIA, tel: +44 02 79 63 67 07.

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