There have been several cases of people experiencing chemical irritation or burns from shoes, shirts, and even furniture, with one furniture manufacturer being sued for $10 million for the injuries that have been caused.
The culprit is dimethyl fumarate, a chemical that was banned as a fungicide in Europe in 1998, and for imported goods in 2009 – but unfortunately is still legal in Australia. Other potential culprits are rubber accelerants, in the case of shoes.
In each case, the Chinese have added a chemical that is effective and cheap to an item without due care for consumer safety, in a manner that would not be acceptable in Australia.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution – wash them before using them. The chemicals will be easily removed by a normal wash, and will present no further problems.