I heard about this on the BBC world news on NPR this morning, and sure enough, it appears to be the real thing. Sometimes there isn’t much to say besides “Ewwwwwww!”
Used condoms that have been reprocessed into rubber bands and hair ties have been sold in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, raising concerns about public health.
In addition to being sold at local bazaars, the recycled condoms have been found at local beauty salons in the prosperous Pearl River Delta city, according to Guangzhou-based New Express Daily.
“These cheap and colorful rubber bands and hair ties sell well in the city, threatening the health of local people and tourists,” the paper said.
Local doctors have warned that using these rubber bands could lead to the spread of AIDS, genital warts and other sexually transmitted diseases.
“There are a lot of bacteria and viruses on the rubber bands and hair ties made from used condoms,” a dermatologist at the Guangzhou Hospital of Armed Police, who asked to be identified by his surname Dong, said.
“People could be infected with AIDS, warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while weaving their hair into plaits or buns,” Dong was quoted as saying by the paper.
Chen Wenlan, a resident of Dongguan, said she was disgusted when she discovered that the rubber bands a local beauty salon had given her last week were made of recycled condoms.
Chen, a local white-collar worker, is a frequent customer of local beauty salons.
“Many of my friends have not yet heard the news. And it is really terrible,” Chen said.
A bag of 10 recycled hair ties costs only 25 fen at local markets, which is much less than the normal rate for such products, the paper said.
Many sellers have refused to reveal where they got their products and whether they had been made from recycled condoms, saying it was commercial secret.
But insiders said some of the rubber bands and hair ties could have been made from imported overseas rubbish. Local entertainment venues were also said to have contributed condoms.
The recycled goods have also been found in bazaars in Guangzhou’s Baiyun and Panyu districts, according to New Express Daily.
An official from the Guangzhou administration of industry and commerce said it was against the law to make or sell goods made from used condoms.
The administration will punish those who have broken the rules.
(China Daily November 13, 2007)