On January 27, 2022, South Korea Ministry of Environment announced that it had exposed 387 consumer chemical products that had been distributed in the market in violation of safety and labeling standards during the period from July 2021 to December 2021 and banned their manufacture and import while blocking their distribution. According to the announcement by the Ministry, there were 340 products that violated the provisions regarding verification of safety standards and declaration before being distributed in the market, 14 products that violated the labeling standards, and 33 products that did not comply with the standards for the content of hazardous chemical substances when actually distributed although they had met the safety standards when declared. The Ministry explained that the list of products in violation can be viewed at the Living Environment Safety Information System. In South Korea, based on the Designation of, and Safety and Labeling Standards for, Consumer Chemical Products Subject to Safety Verification, 35 products such as detergents and adhesives are defined as “consumer chemical products subject to safety verification” and are required to comply with the safety and labeling standards.
Living Environment Safety Information System: https://ecolife.me.go.kr/ecolife/
Designation of, and Safety and Labeling Standards for, Consumer Chemical Products Subject to Safety Verification:
Consumer chemical products subject to safety verification
Detergents, removers, laundry detergents, bleaches, fabric softeners, gloss coatings, special purpose coatings, mildew inhibitors, ironing aids, adhesives, bonding agents, air fresheners, deodorants, dyes, colorants, washer fluid, antifreeze, printing inks and toners, vermillion ink-pad, correction fluid and tape, beauty adhesives, tattoo dyes, disinfectants, algicides, antibacterial and disinfectants for humidifiers, disinfectants for the prevention of infectious diseases, other disinfectants for prevention of epidemics, rodenticides, repellent, insecticides and moth proofing agents for hygiene purposes, insecticides for the prevention of infectious diseases, rodenticides for the prevention of infectious diseases, wood preservatives, filter-type preservation treatment products, etc. Wood preservatives, filter products for preservative treatment, dehumidifying agents, etc.
Prohibitions and restrictions on the inclusion of target chemical substances in products are stipulated as safety standards. In order to manufacture or import consumer chemical products subject to safety verification, it is mandatory to have them inspected by a designated testing agency to ensure that they meet the safety standards, and to declare the results to the Ministry of Environment. On the other hands, if labeling standards are in place, it is obligatory to indicate the main ingredients of the product on the outside or packaging of the product.
According to the announcement by the Ministry of Environment, of the 33 products that did not comply with the standards for the content of hazardous chemical substances, up to 16mg/kg of MIT, a prohibited substance, was detected in deodorants, removers, and coatings, and up to 8.7mg/kg of lead, a prohibited substance, was detected in five products including detergents. In addition, seven products including air fresheners and deodorants, were found to contain formaldehyde up to 18 times more than the safety standard value and were exposed.
The Ministry of Environment ordered a ban on sale and recall of these products and plans to intensively monitor the distribution of these products to ensure that unrecovered products are not sold on the market. Specifically, the Ministry has registered the exposed products in the Hazardous Products Sales Blocking System operated by the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry and requested a ban on online sales and distribution through the Korea Online Shopping Association.
The original text of this article (press release by the Ministry of Environment) can be viewed at the following URL (in Korean).