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Flip Flops From China Skin Reaction Warning

Outline
Email with several photographs of a severe foot rash claims that the rash was caused by chemicals used in the manufacture of flip-flops made in China and sold at Wal-Mart.



Status:
True

Example:(Submitted, October 2007)
FW: Be aware of these Flip Flops from China

Don't buy flip flops from Walmart!

It's for your health.

Hi,

This is very true I heard it in news from one of our local radios here that our govt has to be extra careful on these cheap imports from china especially clothes because the Chinese are using some strong but cheap chemical in their manufactures. Cheap is expensive and at the same time fatal.

This is what happened when a customer bought a pair of flip flops from wal-mart. These were chemical burns!

Editor's Note:
Name and photographs removed at the request of the woman who developed the rash and initiated the email.





Detailed Analysis
This emailed message includes several photographs depicting a woman's feet with a severe skin reaction apparently caused by a pair of rubber flip flops (usually called "thongs" in Australia and "jandals" in New Zealand). The message claims that chemicals used in the manufacture of the flip flops caused the rash. According to the message, the flip flops were made in China and sold cheaply in Wal-Mart stores in the US.

The case described in the message is true and the photographs are genuine. The afflicted feet shown in the images belong to a woman from Florida in the United States. In 2010, several years after the incident described in the message, the woman contacted me and requested that I remove her name and photographs from the article for privacy reasons. The photographs depicted the results of apparent chemical burns caused by a pair of flip flops she purchased for $2.44 at a Wal-Mart store. After wearing the flip-flops for a brief period, she later developed a painful and debilitating skin condition.

Wal-Mart subsequently recalled Chinese made flip flops from its stores in September 2007. The Florida woman was not the only person who had reactions to the flip flops. Further cases were reported to Wal-Mart.

Apparently, however, not all wearers of the flip flops were similarly affected. According to a FOX News article on the issue, although seven millions pairs of flip flops were sold, only a relatively small number of people reported a reaction. The article notes:
Dr. Nanette Silverberg, director of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, said that the burning sensation is most likely due to allergies to the rubber on the shoes or to the chemical components, like Thiuram and Dithiocarbamates, used to break down the rubber in the shoes.

"When you think about the large distribution, it's not likely that it's the chemical coating that's extremely toxic," Silverberg said. "It can be allergic contact dermatitis, which is an allergy to something the skin comes in contact with. There are a variety of agents that can do it in flip-flops."
Health concerns with Chinese made products are not unprecedented. Earlier in 2007, millions of toys made in China were recalled due to the use of lead based paint. And, in June, the FDA released a warning that toothpaste made in China may contain a dangerous chemical called DEG.

References
Wal-Mart Stores Remove Flip Flops Made In China
Wal-Mart Flip-Flops Linked to Foot-Blistering, Burns
Mattel issues new massive China toy recall
FDA Advisory: Avoid Toothpaste From China

Last updated: 1st July 2010
First published: 24th October 2007

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen