Fashion e-tailer Asos has pulled a batch of studded belts from its site after discovering they were radioactive, it has emerged.
In an internal report named Project Purple Flower, the e-tailer noted that the peplum leather belts tested positive for Cobalt-60 and could cause injury if worn for over 500 hours, according to The Guardian, which added that US border control had pulled one of the garments and found that it tested positive.
In its report, the company said: “None of these belts are suitable for public use or possession”, and pushed for a worldwide recall of the accessory, though it is unclear how many have been returned.
“Unfortunately, this incident is quite a common occurrence,” the report went on.
“India and the Far East are large consumers of scrap metal for their home and foreign markets.
“During the refining process of these metals, orphaned radioactive sources are sometimes accidentally melted at the same time.
“This in turn contaminates the process and traps the radioactivity in the metal as an alloy or in suspension.”
Asos is now embroiled in a row with Indian supplier Haq International over the issue, which the former claims supplied the belts after working with the e-tailer for over a year.
Faizan Haq, the boss of the supplier, is yet to inspect the belts personally having been refused permission to do so amid fears that he is a security risk according to Asos, which suggested that counter-terrorism agencies believe this may be the case.
The newspaper said that the allegedly contaminated belts do not match the description of those supplied by Haq, though Asos is demanding £100,000 in recall charges while withholding £64,000 owed to Haq, forcing him to close his factory for five months and cancel orders with retailer Miss Selfridge.
Asos said that codes on product boxes containing the contaminated belts match those supplied by Haq, adding that any discrepencies over the number of studs are a result of the goods being handmade.
Project Purple Flower found that “the majority” of the 801 brass studs within the belts were contaminated, though the company pointed out that it uses a number of different belt suppliers.
However, daily protests in the Uttar Pradesh province of northern Indi are ongoing as workers demand their jobs back from the e-tailer while burning effigies of Asos bosses.
Independent testing from the Health Protection Agency took place at Haq’s London warehouse, revealing no radiation from any of the belts and melted stored there, while results of a further test by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board in India have not been shared.
A spokesman for Asos said: “A product supplied to Asos did not meet UK health and safety standards.
“Asos worked with all relevant authorities and undertook a precautionary product recall, in line with our high standards of quality and customer care. No other Asos product lines are affected.
“Asos continues to work with the relevant regulatory authorities and is in dialogue with the supplier and the factory workers involved to ensure a satisfactory outcome.”