Alert over radioactive fashion belts

Belts have been recalled after the metal studs in them were found to be radioactive. Photo / Thinkstock
Belts have been recalled after the metal studs in them were found to be radioactive. Photo / Thinkstock

Women's leather belts sold by the fashion website ASOS have been recalled after the metal studs in them were found to be radioactive.

About 50 of the belts, retailing for around NZ$50, are known to have been bought from the company.

They were made using cheap contaminated scrap metal in India.

The firm issued a recall in January, but details have slipped out only now and ASOS cannot say how many have been returned.

The threat was revealed when US port authorities tested a consignment of the peplum leather belts destined for American customers and found they contained Cobalt-60. Health experts say the substance releases gamma rays and that extended exposure is a known risk for cancer.

A report concluded that the belt could cause harm if worn for more than 500 hours - equivalent to 50 or 60 days of wear.

Cobalt-60 is commonly used in medical tests and industrial equipment, while it can also be present as a result of weapons testing.

It appears that items contaminated with the radioactive substance were included in a consignment of waste metal which was melted down and passed on to clothing and belt manufacturers in India. The discovery would suggest that the vetting and testing of metal used in fashion items made in India and sold in the UK is not as stringent as it should be.

It is bad news for the reputation of ASOS, which is the UK's largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer and sells its clothes around the world.

The product was supplied by the Indian firm Haq International, which has sold 641 belts said to be radioactive through various companies. ASOS is demanding £100,000 from it to cover the costs of the product recall.

Its owner, Faizan Haq, denies that any of the items he supplied were radioactive.

- Daily Mail

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