120,000 items recalled over cancer fears for dyes

MORE than 120,000 items of clothing have been recalled by Australian retailers amid fears over a cancer-causing dye used in jeans, children's clothing and bed sheets.

The hazardous azo dyes, which can break down and be absorbed into the skin.

Myer pulled several types of children's jeans on Thursday while Target pulled both infant and children's clothing and two lines of women's jeans.

Other retailers who have recalled jeans include Rivers, Just Jeans and Trade Secret while Pillow Talk removed a pillow and bed sheet range.

News of the recall sent the Australia's national recall website into meltdown on Friday afternoon.

Australia's consumer watchdog launched a survey of dyed textiles and clothing after a recommendation from the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS).

It was the first time that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had done this type of survey.

"The ACCC identified a number of items as containing unacceptable concentrations of the hazardous dye,'' a statement said.

" The ACCC has negotiated eight recalls of 28 product lines with the affected suppliers.

"More than 121,000 items across those product lines have been recalled so far. Further recalls are possible in coming weeks.

Azo dyes are a large class of very effective synthetic dyes used for colouring a variety of consumer goods such as foods, cosmetics, carpets, clothes, leather and textiles.

A small proportion of azo dyes can contain, or can break down to form, a class of chemical substances referred to as 'aromatic amines'.

Aromatic amines can migrate from clothing and leather articles dyed with azo dyes.

The amount released can increase with body heat, sweat or saliva.

View the recalls here:

Rivers Australia-Doghouse style children's dark-denim jeans & Doghouse style children's black jeans

Just Jeans Pty Ltd-Just Jeans Junior Girls Skinny Jeans & Junior Boys Denim Shorts

Pillow Talk Pty Ltd-Pillow Talk 50/50 Poly/Cotton 225 Thread Count Plain Dye Range - Red Only

Trade Secret-Firetrap Blackseal Super Skinny Girls Jeans

Just Jeans Pty Ltd-Junior Girls Jeans, Junior Boys Pants and Shorts

Myer Pty Ltd-Milkshake Classic Jeans

Myer Pty Ltd-Wayne Junior Acid Wash Jeans

Target Australia Pty Ltd-Kid's and Ladies Denim Jeans

Benzidine and other aromatic amines may be absorbed through the skin from dyed clothing and articles where there is direct and prolonged contact with the skin.

Articles not in both direct and prolonged contact with the skin do not expose consumers to the hazard.

Certain aromatic amines such as benzidine are hazardous to human health. 

Expert authorities such as the World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have classified some of these aromatic amines as known, or suspected human carcinogens.

Exposure to a carcinogen does not mean cancer will result.

"While consumer exposure to hazardous azo dyes is likely to be very low, the associated cancer risks give cause for concern,'' the ACCC said.

"As a result, exposure to certain azo dyes, including benzidine-based dyes, should be minimised or eliminated.

"There are no specific regulatory limits on these dyes in Australia.

" The ACCC has made recommendations to Government and on 24 April 2014 the Minister - The Hon Bruce Billson, activated a process to assess whether further regulation is required.

This process will involve broad stakeholder consultation and include the development of a Regulation Impact Statement.

Consumers are advised to return the recalled products for a full refund.