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March 24, 2022

US counterfeit fashion goods contain dangerous chemicals

A new study shows counterfeit fashion goods contain dangerous levels of chemicals and heavy metals, with 36.2% of counterfeit products tested – including clothing, footwear, and other accessories – failing to comply with US product safety standards. 

By Beth Wright

The study, which was released by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), highlights the dangers that counterfeit goods present for consumers. 

AAFA worked with international total quality assurance provider Intertek to test counterfeit products for a range of hazardous chemicals and heavy metals. Releasing a summary of findings from the laboratory review, AAFA says of the 47 counterfeit items tested, 17 products failed to comply with safety standards. 

“The products that failed our study contained dangerous levels of arsenic, cadmium, phthalates, lead, and more that have been shown to cause adverse health outcomes. Even small amounts can pose significant health risks,” says AAFA president and CEO Steve Lamar.

“AAFA and our members are dedicated to protecting consumers, defending American intellectual property, building American jobs, and safeguarding workers around the globe. Our members go above and beyond to protect the health and safety of our consumers by ensuring their products are safe. Counterfeits put all that at risk, harming consumers, hurting companies, and destroying jobs.

“There is a truly astounding prevalence of unsafe counterfeits showing up every minute of every day across even the most trusted e-commerce and social media platforms. That’s why AAFA is working with Congress and US government agencies – including the US Trade Representative, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Department of Commerce, the US Department of Homeland Security, and more – to sound the alarm and develop effective policies to raise public awareness, improve tools in the fight against illicit and counterfeit goods, and hold e-commerce and social media platforms responsible.”

All of the hazardous chemicals found in the tested counterfeit products are listed in the AAFA Restricted Substances List (RSL). For more than 15 years, AAFA has published and regularly updated the AAFA RSL, an open-industry resource and trusted tool that lists all banned and restricted chemicals and substances for finished apparel, footwear, accessories, and home textile products.

AAFA supports two complementary bills currently in front of Congress to combat counterfeits, The SHOP SAFE Act and the INFORM Consumers Act.

Last month, AAFA claimed the US 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy missed the opportunity to hold a number of major counterfeit platforms accountable.

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