‘Hongbao’ may contain toxic residues: doctor

SEEING RED: The synthetic dyes used in red envelopes and spring couplets could cause allergic reactions or release volatile organic compounds, a doctor said

Taipei Times
Date: Jan 26, 2020
By: Chiu Shu-yu and Dennis Xie  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Materials used to make hongbao (紅包, a red envelope containing money) and chunlian (春聯, a

An array of red envelopes and spring couplets are pictured in Taipei on Dec. 16 last year.
Photo: Chiu Shu-yu, Taipei Times

spring couplet) might contain toxic chemicals, so people should wash their hands thoroughly to ensure that no residues remain, a doctor said.

It is a popular tradition in Taiwan to hand out hongbao and decorate homes with spring couplets as part of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

However, the synthetic dyes used to make red envelopes and spring couplets could cause allergic reactions in children, as well as release volatile organic compounds that contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen, En Chu Kong Hospital Nephrology Division director Lin Chien-yu (林建宇) said, adding that the gilding on red envelopes could contain heavy metals.

Chemical compounds that disrupt hormonal activity are known as environmental hormones, with 70 to 80 different types currently known in the medical field, such as plasticizers, bisphenol A and dioxins, he said.    [FULL  STORY]

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