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Friday, 20 October, 2000, 14:19 GMT
Mouse mats withdrawn over fungus fear
mouse mat
The mats promoted Greenpeace's campaign to protect the Amazon
Greenpeace has recalled promotional mouse mats after it discovered they may contain a fungus from the Brazilian Amazon that could cause an allergic reaction.

An estimated 500 mouse mats were sent out in May this year by the environmental pressure group to boost the profile of its campaign to protect the Amazon.

After parts of the mats started to discolour, the organisation sent them away from testing and found there were fungus spores in the water used to make the rubber in the mats.

We wondered what the spots were and sent a mat for external assessment

Blake Lee-Harwood
The charity says there is a "remote" chance that the fungus might spread and cause an allergic reaction if people have sensitive skin.

Greenpeace's media director, Blake Lee-Harwood, said: "The chance of the mats causing an allergic reaction is extremely remote, but we have decided to err on the side of safety.

"We first noticed something was up when the mats started to discolour in small patches. We wondered what the spots were and sent a mat for external assessment.

"We expect industry and commerce to operate to the highest standards, so we can't operate to lower ones.

"The charity is currently working with the University of Brasilia Lateq Laboratory and our own laboratory at the University of Exeter on a further refinement in the production process which should solve the problem."

No risk to public

The water used for the rubber in the mouse mats came from the Jurua area of Brazil.

The charity has not analysed what species the fungus is but has narrowed it down to a number of potential families it might belong to.

The mouse mats were not put on sale to the public.

Most were sent out to organisations as part of a promotion and a small number were sent to internet cafes to see if they wanted to make an order.

Greenpeace said it has the names and addresses of all the people who they sent the mats to and has written to them asking for them back.

"When we have fine tuned the production process so this doesn't happen again we will send new mouse mats out," said Mr Lee-Harwood.

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10 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Greenpeace goes for new approach
20 Jun 00 | Americas
Amazon felled for British plywood
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