Does Shein clothing contain too much lead? The Truth Behind the Gossip

Are Shein garments contaminated with dangerous levels of lead? Fact check website snopes recently decided to debunk a widely circulated claim that some of the online fast fashion retailer’s clothing and accessories contain unhealthy levels of lead. The Chinese retail giant came under scrutiny in October 2021 for toxic materials found in its products. Concerns resurfaced about a year later social mediawith accusations that the company was manufacturing lead-contaminated products that were harmful to customers.

The allegations are the result of an investigation published by Marketplace, the CBC’s Canadian consumer watchdog, in October 2021. Thirty-eight garments and accessories were reviewed across a range of fast fashion retailers. Zaful, AliExpress and Shein products have been found to contain high levels of lead, PFAS (or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and phthalates. According to the survey, Health Canada’s lead limit for children’s products was 90 mg/kg. University of Toronto scientists found about 20 times more lead in a Shein toddler jacket than Canadian public health officials allow for children’s products. A red handbag for sale had five times the allowed limit.

In an email at CBC Marketplace, Shein said the company has removed the purse and jacket from its shopping apps and will stop working with affected third-party vendors until the issue “is resolved.” However, Snopes reported that they could not independently verify this. At the time of this writing, no additional details were available on the company’s response to the report, including whether it had removed the items from sale and cut ties with certain vendors; similar hand bags and jackets were still available in August 2022.

A tweet from fashion blogger Cora Harringtonurging people to share companies with similar chemicals in their products, Shein led to publish on their 2022 regulations August 18. Snopes said he contacted Shein after the tweets went viral to see if he had identified this issue in other products and what steps had been taken to address it. “The two products in question from 2021 were promptly phased out,” the company said in a statement. We are committed to the health and safety of our customers and regularly test products, such as clothing, cosmetics and children’s clothing, using standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States, REACH in Europe and other international regulatory bodies.

The manufacturer also noted that it carried out more than 160,000 chemical safety tests in 2002 with global laboratories such as ITS, SGS, BV and TUV on cosmetics, children’s clothing and other products, immediately correcting any breach. According to Snopes, while Shein has responded to concerns raised by CBC, there isn’t enough specific information to confirm whether this applies to all individual products.

In August 2022, the website gave the fact check a “mixed” verdict. Factual evidence shows that a 2021 investigation found high levels of lead and other potentially dangerous chemicals in products from Shein and other retailers. Shein responded by saying they had removed these products from its apps, cut ties with vendors who made them, and performed chemical safety testing. However, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether all products in Shein’s massive inventory with lead issues were identified in the consumer survey and whether those products were eliminated.

Bloomberg reported by July 2022, Shein had an extensive network of contract manufacturers that enabled it to offer thousands of new products. According to Bloomberg, the company made $16 billion in revenue in 2021 alone. Their business model resulted in charges that its workers worked in substandard conditions with poor wages.

Despite Shein’s claims that it does not condone labor rights abuses, critics believe the company will not implement new regulations unless it pays its suppliers more to ensure compliance. Eco-Stylist, a social business group that rates businesses on sustainability, gave the company a zero score. Although lead in clothing may not cause immediate and drastic damage, children can be exposed at low levels if they chew on jackets or handbags, and their skin is in constant contact with them. A small red purse that deteriorates over time can continue to cause long-term damage. The workers who made the product were also exposed to higher amounts of lead. Conduct can cause many health problems in the brain, kidneys, blood system and nervous system at different levels of exposure.

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