Do Shein Clothes Contain Unhealthy Lead Levels?

Some garments and equipment manufactured by the fast-fashion big Shein comprise unhealthy ranges of lead, as of August 2022.


A 2021 investigation by a Canadian investigative client watchdog found elevated ranges of lead and different chemical substances in merchandise obtainable for buy by Shein and different retailers. In response, Shein mentioned it could take away these merchandise from its apps and minimize ties with third-party distributors that helped make them. However, no proof proved that that had definitively occurred, and it was unknown whether or not the CBC investigation uncovered all gadgets with lead issues inside the firm’s huge stock. We reached out to the corporate and are ready for a response.

Fact Check

The quick vogue method to clothes manufacture and advertising and marketing is thought for its disregard of environmental and labor laws. In October 2021, issues grew round poisonous supplies present in merchandise manufactured by the Chinese retail big Shein. And, a couple of 12 months later, these accusations made a comeback on social media, accusing the corporate of constructing lead-contaminated merchandise that threatened prospects’ well being.

The claims adopted an investigation, revealed in October 2021, by CBC’s Marketplace, a Canadian investigative client watchdog. The investigation seemed into 38 gadgets, both items of clothes and niknaks, from a variety of fast-fashion retailers. They recognized elevated ranges of chemical substances similar to lead, PFAS (or per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), and phthalates in merchandise manufactured by Zaful, AliExpress, and Shein. 

The investigation identified that Health Canada’s restrict for lead in kids’s merchandise was 90 kg/mg. Scientists on the University of Toronto discovered {that a} Shein jacket for toddlers had round 20 instances the quantity of lead that Canadian public well being officers mentioned was allowed in kids’s merchandise. The crimson purse had 5 instances that restrict.

CBC’s full investigation may be watched right here:

Miriam Diamond, an environmental chemist and professor on the University of Toronto who oversaw the testing, mentioned: “I’m alarmed because we’re buying what looks cute and fashionable on this incredibly short fashion cycle. What we’re doing today is to look [for] very short-lived enjoyment out of some articles of clothing that cost so much in terms of our … future health and environmental health. That cost is not worth it.”

Shein responded to the report in an electronic mail CBC’s Marketplace, saying the corporate had withdrawn the purse and jacket from their buying functions and would cease working with related third-party suppliers till the problem “was resolved.” However, we have been unable to independently confirm whether or not that had really occurred; there have been no additional particulars concerning the firm’s actions in response to the report, together with whether or not it had certainly eliminated the gadgets for buying and minimize ties with sure distributors. As of August 2022, similar-looking purses and jackets have been nonetheless obtainable on the positioning.

In August 2022, when social media put new consideration on the matter, we reached out to Shein for extra info on its steps to addressing the CBC report’s findings, and to see whether or not it had examined extra gadgets throughout its huge stock for attainable lead contamination. We didn’t obtain a response earlier than publication time, although we’ll replace this report if hear from the corporate. That mentioned, it was unknown whether or not the CBC investigation recognized all gadgets containing elevated ranges of lead inside the firm’s huge stock, and/or the issue endured.

On August 18, 2022, in response to a tweet from vogue blogger Cora Harrington, who known as on folks to share firms with related chemical substances of their merchandise, Shein posted about their 2022 laws:

“Shein has lead in their clothes.”

“Other brands have lead in their clothes too! Why are you always picking on Shein!”

Like…if you understand of different manufacturers utilizing lead or uranium or mercury or no matter, add them to the rattling thread!

— Cora Harrington (@lingerie_addict) August 14, 2022

We need to give you extra details about our strict product security requirements. Here are the steps we take to make sure our prospects are secure:

— SHEIN (@SHEIN_Official) August 18, 2022

In the above tweet, Shein said that they comply with product security requirements within the United States, Europe, and various different international locations, and use supplies recognized as having low lead danger. In 2022, they mentioned they labored with various laboratories to conduct greater than 160,000 chemical assessments on their uncooked supplies and located that greater than 99% of their merchandise have been decided to be secure. They additionally claimed to work with their suppliers to satisfy the mandatory security requirements, and terminate agreements with suppliers who violated these requirements.

This assertion has not been independently verified as of but, although it does seem that the corporate has been taking steps to handle the issues introduced ahead within the CBC investigation.

A July 2022 Bloomberg report paints a grimmer image. Shein has an enormous community of contracted producers that allow the corporate to launch hundreds of latest merchandise and kinds at extraordinarily low costs. The firm has turn into a fast-fashion behemoth, making gross sales price round $16 billion in 2021 alone in keeping with Bloomberg. Their enterprise mannequin resulted in accusations that its items have been made by poorly paid workers who labored in substandard situations. The firm has a zero score from Eco-Stylist, a social-enterprise group that scores firms on their dedication to sustainability — whereas, for comparability, Zara and H&M have 30-point scores. (Previously, we debunked a viral TikTookay video that claimed to indicate a message from a Shein employee on a product pleading for assist.)

Shein representatives have mentioned the corporate doesn’t tolerate labor-rights violations, however critics consider their laws will probably be tough to implement until the corporate pays its suppliers extra to make sure they adjust to stricter labor insurance policies.

While the lead within the garments can’t trigger instant, drastic hurt, kids and toddlers might get low degree publicity in the event that they chewed the jackets or purses, and their pores and skin is continually in touch. Diamond identified that the hurt can proceed long-term, notably if the little crimson purse deteriorates over time. She added that the hurt extends to the laborers who made the product, too, who have been uncovered to larger quantities of lead within the manufacturing course of.

What can unhealthy ranges of lead do to the physique? Different ranges of publicity to guide could cause a variety of well being challenges within the mind, kidneys, blood system, and nervous system. According to Health Canada, low-level publicity can lead to dangerous results on kids’s improvement, whereas pregnant girls must be extraordinarily cautious as it could possibly move by way of the placenta. High-level publicity could cause “vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma or even death.”

This situation is pretty frequent in keeping with Caroline Cox, a former scientist on the nonprofit Center for Environmental Health. She discovered that lead is utilized in a variety of synthetic leather-based gadgets, notably brightly coloured ones. Cox discovered round 200 firms within the United States utilizing it of their clothes and equipment, typically within the type of colour components.

We ought to notice that within the U.S. the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, “restricts children’s products, including children’s apparel and sleepwear, to a lead content limit of 100 parts per million (ppm). In addition, the use of paint or similar surface coating on children’s apparel and sleepwear must not exceed a lead content limit of 90 ppm.”

“As far as avoiding toxic chemicals in general, I personally as much as possible try to find clothing and stuff made of natural materials like cotton, wool, and leather,” Cox advised Style Caster. “I think there’s fewer problems with natural materials. And if you can find what you’re looking for in organic cotton, that helps even more.”

In sum, even when Shein withdrew offending merchandise recognized within the 2021 CBC investigation prefer it had promised, we don’t know if different gadgets inside its catalog of lots of and hundreds of items — all obtainable by way of Shein’s quite a few producers — contained harmful ranges of lead or different chemical substances. The firm has said publicly that they’ve addressed the issue, and independently testing their supplies might affirm this. Given the corporate’s measurement and world attain, it’s totally attainable that the issue was greater than the few gadgets caught by the University of Toronto scientists. 


Benson, Lisa M., and Karen Reczek. “A Guide to United States Apparel and Household Textiles Compliance Requirements.” U.S. Department of Commerce, 2016, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Blalock, Meghan. “Everything You Need to Know About Lead in Clothing: Who Uses It, How to Detect It, How To Avoid It.” StyleCaster, 24 Mar. 2014, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Cowley, Jenny, et al. “Experts Warn of High Levels of Chemicals in Clothes by Some Fast-Fashion Retailers | CBC News.” CBC, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Cox, Caroline. “Kids Deserve Toxic-Free Shoes!” Center for Environmental Health, 22 Sept. 2017, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Einhorn, Bruce, and Daniela Wei. “Fast-Fashion Behemoth Shein Says It’s Cleaning Up Its Act. Will Anyone Buy It?” Bloomberg, 13 July 2022, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

“Mini Biscuit Embossed Double Handle Square Bag.” Shein. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

“Mini Minimalist Buckle Flap Square Bag.” Shein. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

“Misleading TikTok Video Claims Shein Clothing Tags Contain Cries for Help.” Snopes.Com, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

“The Impact of Fast Fashion On the Environment.” PSCI, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

“Toddler Girls Ruffle Trim PU Moto Jacket & Hat.” Shein. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

“Learn about Lead.” US EPA, OCSPP, 12 Feb. 2013,

“When Clothing Labels Are a Matter of Life or Death.” Human Rights Watch, 2 May 2018, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.


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