Health hazards caused by "ukay-ukay" clothing

- Katrina Justine A. Chan () - February 27, 2012 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines -  One of the fastest growing businesses in our country today is the selling of used clothing or what avid shoppers in Cebu call as “ukay-Ukay.”

 The “ukay-ukay” trend has been the fashion choice of most Filipino buyers since the 90’s. This is due to its variety of branded clothing and its inexpensive prices since the business started.

 Though these people prefer to buy used clothing, it is vital that they should be aware of the health hazards it may cause.

 “Ang amo man supplier sa gawas maoy mulimpyo ana (used clothing),Among siguraduon nga limpyo gyud sya (It is our supplier from abroad who cleans them. We make sure that the items are cleaned),” Marivic Piscos, an owner of an “ukay-ukay” shop said.

 According to Dr. Joanri T. Riveral, Medical Specialist II, regional. Leprosy Program Coordinator of the Department of Health (DOH), these items undergo a process of de-contamination.

 “Before these items are brought out for selling, it has to undergo a process of de-contamination by the Bureau of Customs (BOC). If there are items that contain radiation, the DOH will handle them through further tests or disposal of items,” he said.

 Due to the fact that these items might cause diseases, some people have their own way of ‘de-contaminating’ them.

 “I love “ukay-ukay” because it is very cheap and affordable. Before I wear “ukay-ukay,” I clean them properly to get rid of the germs, like boiling them in water. That way, I don’t get any skin problems.” Abigail Samson, an avid shopper of used clothing, said.

 Aside from the mainstream “ukay-ukay” stores, there are also existing online “ukay-ukay” shops that have their way of cleaning these clothes.

 “We make sure that the pre-loved clothes that we’re selling are cleaned and germ-free. We send it to the laundry,” an owner of an online shop,” said.

 According to Dr. Dana Ruiz, owner of Derma Ruiz, “ukay-ukay” may cause skin diseases, trigger allergies and a certain Atopic Dermatitis (an itchy inflammation of the skin generated from fabric itself, chemical additives used in processing the fabric, or chemicals used to preserve and/or clean fabric).

 “It is possible for clothes to cause irritation to the skin, most especially if our immune system is weak. Used clothes can cause itchiness, redness, if not cleaned properly; Second is that sometimes we get bed bugs from used mattresses. We can never be too sure if they are clean enough,” she said.

 Despite of the many health hazards that we can get from “ukay-ukay”, The Department of Health (DOH) reminds the people to be cautious in buying these items so as to prevent diseases.

“You have to boost your immune system. Once you’re body is exposed to bacteria, for sure you are prone to get diseases," Riveral said.

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