Samsonite International has recalled a quarter of a million suitcases over a cancer scare. Testing revealed a toxin linked to cancer in a component of the luggage.
The 250,000 “Tokyo Chic” suitcases, which have been recalled worldwide, will have their handles replaced. According to the Associated Press (AP), a Hong Kong-based consumer group discovered high levels of compounds linked to cancer. Samsonite disagreed saying that its independent tests revealed that the luggage does not pose a health hazard and was only implementing the recall to calm consumers.
Samsonite pulled the “Tokyo Chic” line from Hong Kong stores following a Consumer Council report that a sample it tested contained levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that were higher than what is recommended in voluntary guidelines, said the AP. The Hong Kong Customs and Excise department advised agents to “stop the sales of the concerned model and to replace the handles,” said the council, wrote Yahoo News.
Initially, said Yahoo News, the recall was limited to Hong Kong; however, Samsonite said it would withdraw the complete inventory of its American Tourister brand’s Tokyo Chic luggage “everywhere the product is sold”.
Although the council’s tests provided off-the-chart readings for the compounds—17,960 milligrams per kilogram—Samsonite said its independent testing, commissioned from laboratories in Germany and Hong Kong, revealed levels “significantly lower” than what the council found. The independent Samsonite tests revealed 17 milligrams per kilogram of the compound, Ramesh Tainwala, Samsonite’s Asia-Pacific and Middle East president, told the AP.
According to Tainwala, not only are the independent findings lower than the council’s findings, no health risks have been associated with Samsonite’s products. Tainwala noted that, although its Tokyo Chic luggage is “completely safe,” customers who have purchased this line of luggage should contact Samsonite to arrange for handle replacement, said Yahoo News.
The recall enables Samsonite to replace the potentially contaminated PAH handles with “new-generation handles,” said Yahoo News.
PAH compounds are typically seen in plastics, rubber, and lubricating oil, and, said the council, could have been left during the manufacturing process. The compounds are known to cause cancer and birth defects in animals, said the AP.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), animal testing reveals that PAH can affect conception and can have this affect on future generations. Animal research also revealed that the offspring of parents exposed to the toxin had increased birth defect rates and decreased body weight. PAHs can have harmful effects on the skin, body fluids, and ability to fight disease after short- and long-term exposure.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) “determined that some PAHs may reasonably be expected to be carcinogens” and some people who have breathed or touched PAH mixtures have developed cancer; in laboratory animals, breathing, ingesting, or touching the compounds led to lung, stomach, and skin cancer, said ATSDR.