More than half of the containers arriving in Dutch ports still contain traces of poisonous gases, according to research by the government’s health and environment institute RIVM, quoted in Tuesday’s Volkskrant.
Yesterday it emerged that government inspectors are to increase spot-checks on containers after a number of instances involving goods from China.
Under EU rules, all wood arriving from certain countries, including China, has to be treated for insects. Because wooden pallets are widely used to transport goods, Chinese shipments are pumped full of poisonous gas, usually methylbromide.
While containers should be clearly marked if they have been sprayed, the environment ministry told the paper less than 1% actually are. Only containers which are examined during spot checks are treated to remove the poison.
Ieneke de Waard, director of Holland Fumigation which treats containers, says environment ministry inspectors check fewer than 2% of all containers, a fact confirmed by the ministry itself.
‘We are talking about extremely dangerous substances,’ Martin van den Berg, professor of toxicology at the University of Utrecht told the paper. ‘Synthetic products such as sofas, mattresses and carpets are particularly vulnerable. These products should be kept aside for a few weeks before being delivered to shops.’
De Waard told the paper that he had received one contaminated shipment this week containing hats, leggings and socks which were full of toluene and benzine.
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