Used condoms are being recycled into hair bands in southern China, threatening to spread sexually-transmittable diseases they were originally meant to prevent, state media reported Tuesday.
In the latest example of potentially harmful Chinese-made products, rubber hair bands have been found in local markets and beauty salons in Dongguan and Guangzhou cities in southern Guangdong province, China Daily newspaper said.
"These cheap and colourful rubber bands and hair ties sell well ... threatening the health of local people," it said.
Despite being recycled, the hair bands could still contain bacteria and viruses, it said.
"People could be infected with AIDS, (genital) warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while waving their hair into plaits or buns," the paper quoted a local dermatologist who gave only his surname, Dong, as saying.
A bag of ten of the recycled bands sells for just 25 fen (three cents), much cheaper than others on the market, accounting for their popularity, the paper said.
A government official was quoted as saying recycling condoms was illegal.
China's manufacturing industry has been repeatedly tarnished this year by a string of scandals involving shoddy or dangerous goods made for both domestic and foreign markets.
In response, it launched a public relations blitz this summer aimed at playing up efforts to strengthen monitoring systems.