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TORONTO – Clothing items being sold online by ultra fast fashion retailers Zaful, AliExpress and Shein, were found by scientists to contain elevated levels of potentially hazardous textile chemicals. Excessive levels of lead, phthalates and PFAS – also known as ‘forever chemicals’ – were found in purses, jackets and dresses. Out of 38 samples of children’s, adult and pregnancy clothing and accessories, every fifth item contained elevated levels of chemicals.

Over the past decade, major high street fashion brands have clamped down heavily on the use of potentially hazardous chemicals in clothing production. This has been supported by their work with the ZDHC Group and the imposition of strict Manufacturing Restricted Substances Lists for suppliers. However, the rapid growth of online brands such as Chinese brand Shein represents a new threat to consumers, particularly given the challenges around regulating the entry of online clothing sales into the EU and US markets.

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