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Do you believe Chinese saxophones/saxophone products may pose a health risk?

  • Yes

    Votes: 38 28.4%
  • No

    Votes: 40 29.9%
  • I've never given it much thought

    Votes: 56 41.8%
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Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #1
I have been debating whether or not to write this for a while, because I do not want to start a wave of panic in the saxophone community, but I believe the time is right to open this discussion.

As I have worked closely with a Chinese manufacturer in the past, and have owned many Chinese and a few Taiwanese horns over the past 10 years, I feel fairly well informed about the processes and conditions instruments are made under. In the past, I made a blanket assumption that products were safe, and that the processes/materials used would not be inherently harmful. But given the recent exposure of serious quality and safety issues in a variety of products, I have begun to re-examine my assumptions. And, I am very concerned.

First, and most alarming is an experience I had engraving some saxophones while I was in China. After working with the horns for several hours, I had a feeling of surface heat on my body, like a sunburn. I was indoors, and it was not hot (it was Winter), so there was no particular reason to have this overwhelming feeling, but never gave it much thought. After some research and reflection I have come to the conclusion that the brass used in those instruments may have been somewhat radioactive. China has large deposits of copper, but much of it is naturally radioactive. They also actively purchase scrap copper from Russia and other countries, some of which has radioactive materials salvaged from dismantled energy production facilities. My faith in Chinese manufacturers checking the radioactivity/safety of the brass used in their horns is not high.

Another major area of concern is plating and the use of heavy metals, especially on mouthpieces. I am doubtful that the gold alloy used to plate things has been given much if any scrutiny in terms of health affects. The same may go for all the chemicals needed to produce various other finishes on horns.

I am not trying to make alarmist statements, but I think this is an important discussion for us to have. I believe the assumption that these products are safe and well-tested is not necessarily valid anymore.
 

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Well in recent news and investigations we all have heard and read about and the discovery, and disclosures:

Industrial oils, wax, carcinogenic chemicals and other harmful ingredients have been found in thousands of widely consumed foods in China.

A nationwide investigation by China's food quality watchdog found products such as baby milk powder, rice, flour, meat, biscuits, seafood, soy sauce and sweets had been contaminated.

More than 23,000 tainted or sub-standard food items were found and 180 food manufacturers closed in the crackdown from December last year to May, in what is believed to represent only a fraction of the problem. "These are not isolated cases," the China Daily newspaper quoted Han Yi, a director with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, as saying.

http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_2137067,00.html
(An AFP source)

http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/toothpaste.html
(US Gov)

If you extend your thinking, all these carcinogenic elements they put in there own food and the foods they export, there is no telling what materials and chemicals are used in the manufacture of any other products made in China.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Saxus Envious Curmudgeon
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Jason, you are correct to be concerned and it is not alarmist in any way.

One point that you bring up:
I believe the assumption that these products are safe and well-tested is not necessarily valid anymore.
is an incredibly important thing for all Americans to realize when dealing with countries and civilizations that are drastically different from the USA.
They (and I am not speaking of China only) do not operate and play by the same rules and morality that we do. They do not have the same values or laws (and even if they do have similar laws they are often NOT enforced). They do not have the same understanding of human rights or personal freedoms.

I believe that a lot of Americans, (and I was too for many years-now I am not), are blinded by the assumption of fair play and shared values by all countries who sign a treaty with the USA.
It is an assumption that has gotten the country in trouble before, and will no doubt continue to do so.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Surely health and safety regulations worldwide should be under scrutiny, following the latest catastrophe in the U.S.

One person felt a bit hot in a Chinese factory now there is a potential panic about all Chines saxophones.

Seems to me this could easily turn into another possibly racist Chinese bashing threads.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Saxus Envious Curmudgeon
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Or it could turn into an apples and oranges, relativist, I-believe-in-the-basic-goodness-of-all-people-and-am-under-the-mistaken-assumption-that-all-people-play-by-the-same-rules thread.

Read the comments....
There is nothing racist in discussing and comparing cultures and civilizations, if indeed you are implying that Jasons or my comments are racist or potentially racist.
 

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I don't think this is a thread about "bashing" anyone.

There may or may not be a health concern here - and I am looking for a way to find more information.

I find it's usually worth questioning things - even if you may not be able to prove it one way or another yourself.

In this case - would we be able to confirm/deny this by testing a few Chinese/Taiwanese horns and older american made horns (as the control group) with a geiger counter? Anyone have one?

I would be really curious-
 

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This thread is funny, do any of you actually red labels of the foods that you eat from the grocery store, how about when you dine at a restaurant. I think that is what we should be concerned about.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Saxus Envious Curmudgeon
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It's funny, in a sad way, that we continue to hijack threads.
So back on topic!

Who has a geiger counter?
 

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have any of you thought about health risks to the factory workers?
the conditions in which they are made could pose a threat to those who build them,
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Randall said:
Read the comments....
There is nothing racist in discussing and comparing cultures and civilizations, if indeed you are implying that Jasons or my comments are racist or potentially racist.
I didn't imply that at all, I was just commenting on what might happen to this thread. I haven't seen any racist comments so far.

What I'm saying is health and safety problems are not restricted to China, they are worldwide - so picking on one country with no evidence of this particular allegation seems a bit strange to me.

I would be extremely keen to know if Chinese saxophones are radioactive, especially as I own a Chinese made soprano and alto flute.
If they are radioactive then anyone bringing this (as a fact rather than speculation) to our attention would be extremely useful.

I said what I said because I have seen previous threads which start off saying all Chinese instruments are rubbish (based on irrational speculation and hearsay), which do turn into quite quite ugly racist discussions. I'm not saying this one has done that yet sop please don't offence at what I said.

EDIT:

The poll question is also rather odd.

"Do you believe Chinese saxophones/saxophone products may pose a health risk?"

I believe any saxophone may pose a health risk. It now appears any bridge may pose a health risk. I doubt anybody will vote "no".
 

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No problem Pete....just being my testy old self. mea culpa....
 

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Distinguished Member and Forum Contributor 2008
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I had to honestly check the "I've never given it much thought" box.

I saw on this mornings news a massive toy recall, including an Elmo doll with arm movement, because materials had a high level of lead content. These parts did come from China.

Seeing Jason's post today certainly would merit concern about instruments coming from that neck of the woods.
 

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SearjeantSax said:
have any of you thought about health risks to the factory workers?
the conditions in which they are made could pose a threat to those who build them,
I think this speaks to the labor conditions and the possible exploitation of workers. You know if there's a product that is selling like crazy in America, made in a country with oppressive labor conditions, there is most likely an importer and possibly a contact in that foreign country getting wealthy on the shoulders of the poorly paid, poorly regulated workers. A friend of mine says, "It's not the price, it's the COST."

It would not surprise me if in the eternal quest to bring something to market that is cheaper (saxophones might be one example) and undercut the next guy by a few cents, if materials used to make these products were substandard as far a quality and/or safety. This is not to mention the ethics of supporting through purchase of those who might be knowingly exposing workers who manufactured the product to toxins, long term health risks, and poor safety conditions throughout the manufacturing process.

I think we all need to be concerned, not just about saxophones, but how about in highly competitive businesses where there are very slim profit margins, like oh, say the airlines. What if a poorly machined engine component that was bought on "low bid" fails on a 767?

A proposed scenario like this has zero to do with racism, ethnicism or anti-Chinese sentiment. It has to do with businesses and entrepreneurs looking to make more money, increase profits, please investors and Wall Street, cut costs AND that phenomenon's confluence with the rapid expansion of manufacturing capacity in nations with cheap labor, without a system in place to guard against faulty goods that may be dangerous or lethal.

Steve
 

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Randall said:
Jason, you are correct to be concerned and it is not alarmist in any way.

One point that you bring up:

is an incredibly important thing for all Americans to realize when dealing with countries and civilizations that are drastically different from the USA.
They (and I am not speaking of China only) do not operate and play by the same rules and morality that we do. They do not have the same values or laws (and even if they do have similar laws they are often NOT enforced). They do not have the same understanding of human rights or personal freedoms.
Hope you don't mind I prefer to read this in a bigger perspective. This is important for the, let's call it modern western world because it is for a big part (over)consumption from these countries that is now booming the other economies in search for cheap labour and products.

Randall said:
I believe that a lot of Americans, (and I was too for many years-now I am not), are blinded by the assumption of fair play and shared values by all countries who sign a treaty with the USA.
It is an assumption that has gotten the country in trouble before, and will no doubt continue to do so.
Also here it's partly a demand we are creating ourselves, but I do agree with you Randall.

The far East and mainly Asia with China as one of the biggest players are in need of lots of raw materials and it must be an awful lot of scrapmetals, used elctronics and plastics that is going that direction. Also the supplying countries have some responsibility here by building a system to ensure the stuff that is leaving is ok. (I know, people always find ways to get through in other ways)
The bigger companies (mostly western origin) might have some proper QC but it is also a fact that a lot of fake / counterfeit products are produced in that region with only the purpose of making easy money. Intellectual propertyrights are not on all peoples agenda there.

Also here last week lots of toys have been called back because of the lead in the paint and then there is the problem with for instance cadmiumlevels in plastics, safetyissues etc etc.
But the money has to keep rolling so the western world is looking for ways to make it easier to conduct international trade, taking away logistical problems, environmental problems with a treaty here and there, Authorised Economic Operators, Green lanes at international mainports etc. Apparently we all want to eat from both sides of the plate. Again, your absolutely right Randall.
 

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Jason DuMars said:
First, and most alarming is an experience I had engraving some saxophones while I was in China. After working with the horns for several hours, I had a feeling of surface heat on my body, like a sunburn. I was indoors, and it was not hot (it was Winter), so there was no particular reason to have this overwhelming feeling, but never gave it much thought. After some research and reflection I have come to the conclusion that the brass used in those instruments may have been somewhat radioactive. China has large deposits of copper, but much of it is naturally radioactive. They also actively purchase scrap copper from Russia and other countries, some of which has radioactive materials salvaged from dismantled energy production facilities. My faith in Chinese manufacturers checking the radioactivity/safety of the brass used in their horns is not high.
Jason, if the environment had been sufficiently radioactive to make you feel sunburnt after a few hours, you can rest assured you'd also be vomiting, bald, sterile and dead by now. And also there wouldn't have been anyone left in the factory by the time you turned up. So I'm glad to say, for your sake, that there must be another explanation. Could have been something, or could have been too much MSG in the noodles, perhaps?
 

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That's IT!!

Radioactive Noodles!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2011
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Fallout from the atmosphere
Made radioactive milk
Kennedy objected
And so did Acker Bilk*
(Anon, 1962)

*Popular English clarinettist of the time.
 

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Pete Thomas said:
One person felt a bit hot in a Chinese factory now there is a potential panic about all Chines saxophones.
It was probably this recent news item that fueled the fire for this thread.
 

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Jason, If there had been radioactivity on the scale you mention then Potiphar is correct in that you would probably be feeling rather ill, or maybe worse, by now.

Randall- i'm not going to hi-jack the thread but your implication of 'USA good' and 'the rest of the world bad' offends me deeply. A few points: H & S- Minneapolis, human rights- Guantanamo Bay, Environment- non signatory to Kyoto Protocol, highest energy consumers per capita in the world. Not that the UK is perfect you understand.

Sorry, i just had to respond.

There may be something to investigate about the source of the copper used given the increase in metals prices across the world markets. It should lead to the question, How can they produce at such low costs? Unfortunately that is answered by the low labour costs rather than the costs of material
 
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