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Shein products contain high levels of toxic chemicals: Seoul Government

Shein has grown to become the world's largest fashion retailer as of 2022. (Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Shein has grown to become the world’s largest fashion retailer as of 2022. (Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

  • The Seoul government in South Korea found toxic substances in children’s products from online shopping giant Shein.
  • The chemicals are known to cause hormonal disruptions that have been linked to obesity, heart disease, some cancers and fertility problems.
  • Seoul authorities have been conducting weekly inspections of items sold by platforms such as Shein, Temu and AliExpress.
  • For news and analysis on climate change, visit News24 Climate Future.

Children’s products sold by China-founded online shopping giant Shein contained toxic substances in quantities hundreds of times higher than acceptable levels, the government of Seoul, South Korea’s capital, said on Tuesday.

Singapore-based Shein has gained popularity around the world in recent years, offering a wide selection of fashion clothing and accessories at surprisingly low prices.

This explosive growth has also led to increased scrutiny of its business practices and safety standards, including in the European Union and South Korea, where authorities in Seoul have been conducting weekly inspections of items sold by platforms such as Shein, Temu and AliExpress.

In the latest round, they selected eight products sold by Shein, including children’s shoes, leather bags and a belt, and found that several contained high amounts of phthalates, chemicals used to soften plastics.

One pair of shoes contained 428 times the permitted levels of phthalates – the highest seen so far during Seoul inspections – and three bags had amounts up to 153 times the limit, the city government said.

READ | Toilet paper adds to ‘permanent chemicals’ in wastewater: study

Phthalates are widely used to soften plastic and are found in thousands of products, including packaging, beauty products and toys. However, they have been known for decades to cause hormonal disruptions and have been linked to obesity, heart disease, some cancers, and fertility problems.

Seoul city official Park Sang-jin told AFP that they requested that these products be removed from sale and said that since the city began inspections in April, most platforms have complied with such requests. .

AFP has contacted Shein for comment.

So far, Seoul authorities said they have inspected 93 products and found that nearly half of them contained toxic substances. These items include children’s watches and crayons.

Last month, the European Union added Shein to its list of digital companies that are large enough to be subject to stricter safety rules, including measures to protect customers from unsafe products, especially those that could be harmful to the minors.

Shein and Temu have followed Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba to challenge Amazon, especially by making inroads into the US market.

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