Seoul Government Finds Toxic Substances in Children Products From Shein and AliExpress

Shein - Ali Express

A children’s watch sold through a Chinese e-commerce platform contained concentrations of toxic substances 278 times above the permitted level.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced on Thursday that a children’s watch and necklace sold on Chinese cross-border shopping platforms—Shein and AliExpress—contained toxic heavy metals.

The two products were among seven children’s items inspected this week, which also included hairbands and bracelets.

The watch, sold through Shein, was found to contain heavy metals such as lead and chromium.

Specifically, its watch crown had lead concentrations 278 times above the permitted level, while the back of the watch had chromium levels 3.4 times and nickel levels 4.4 times above the safety standard.

A pendant on the problematic necklace also contained lead at 1.17 times the standard.

Shein – Ali Express

Exposure to high concentrations of lead can cause reproductive issues. For pregnant women, lead exposure can affect the fetus, increasing the likelihood of the child developing behavioral and learning problems, the city government said.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies lead as a “possible human carcinogen.”

Exposure to chromium can cause nonallergic skin irritation, while exposure to nickel can result in allergic reactions such as red skin and itchy rashes. A pendant necklace for children contained lead at 1.17 times above the standard, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s inspection.

The city government has been cracking down on harmful products on major Chinese cross-border shopping platforms and has been sharing lists of them since the last week of April.

Ali Express

The list is available on the city government’s website. Consumers can also file reports to the Seoul Electronic Commerce Center or the 120 Dansan Call Center.

The metropolitan government plans to inspect children’s leather products next week and food containers in June. The city government also promised to expand its inspections to other cross-border websites frequently used by domestic consumers.

Domestic consumers’ cross-border purchases rose 28.3 percent on year, from 2022’s 5.3 trillion won ($3.9 billion) to 6.8 trillion won last year. Nearly half of the purchases are from Chinese platforms.

In February, the number of monthly active AliExpress users in Korea reached 8.18 million, making it the second-largest e-commerce company after Coupang.

Ethan Johnson
Ethan's journey into journalism began with a deep curiosity about how businesses operate and evolve in today's dynamic markets. Armed with a degree in Journalism from a prestigious university, he embarked on his career, initially covering local business developments before expanding his scope to national and international commerce news.