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Toxic pesticide found in Magic Amah soaps

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Magic Amah-brand detergent product was found in testing to contain pesticides that could disturb animal reproductive systems, the Homemakers United Foundation (HUF) and News&Market announced yesterday.

News&Market spent six months randomly inspecting 35 brand-name detergents that claimed antiseptic and anti-mildew properties, and a detergent made by Magic Amah was discovered to contain the substance permethrin, a pesticide used for crops and wide-area applications such as nurseries and sod farms.

Wang Wen-hao, co-founder of News&Market, said that the levels of permethrin contained in the three samples of Magic Amah detergents were 76.3 ppm, 37.8 ppm, and 44.6 ppm, which all exceeded the regulated threshold of 0.05 ppm for the amount of pesticide residue allowed in vegetables and fruits.

Wang said that based on the product's permethrin content, it should be regulated by the Environmental Agents Control Act, but there is no information in the Environmental Protection Administration database suggesting that permethrin can be added into detergent.

Huang Chia-lin of the HUF said that the government should address the problems of mislabeling or unclear labeling of detergents available on the market as well as the potential health risks of using detergents that contain permethrin.

National Taiwan University Professor of Public Health Wu Kuen-yuh said that permethrin contains neurotoxins, which can cause damage to eyes and skin if absorbed directly through those organs.

Wu also said that wastewater containing permethrin can cause harm to the environment.

Manufacturer Demands More Information

Magic Amah yesterday said that there is no regulation in Taiwan that forbids adding permethrin to detergents, and it hopes the HUF and News&Market can provide more information regarding the inspection results.

Magic Amah PR representative Chou Chih-cheng said that most detergent manufacturers, including Magic Amah, import mothproofing agents from the same source, but the type of mothproofing agent that Magic Amah imported is more effective.

“However, the company still fails to understand why our detergent is the only one being singled out for containing permethrin,” said Chou.

“There is a regulated amount for pesticide residues in vegetables and fruits, but the regulated amount of pesticides contained in detergent should be different,” said Chou. “Moreover, based on information the company has, there is no regulation prohibiting the addition of permethrin in detergents.”

Chou said that all additives inside detergents are usually washed away after washing, so the amounts of additives contained inside a given detergent sample depends on the testing method.

“If there is a regulation that states that adding permethrin could cause damage to one's health, Magic Amah will definitely take the product off shelves immediately,” said Chou. “However, if permethrin is allowed to be added into detergents in Taiwan and other countries as well, the company hopes the civil organization that came up with these test results can provide more details and information.”

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