Extremely High Lead Levels Found in “Styles for Less” Jewelry

Oakland, CA- Testing commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has found extremely high levels of lead in jewelry from Styles for Less stores. The tests on jewelry purchased in January found thirteen items in violation of the California law that sets strict limits on lead in jewelry; eleven of the thirteen had metal components containing 69% or more lead.

“There is no excuse for these numerous, exceedingly high lead violations in Styles for Less jewelry,” said Caroline Cox, Research Director at CEH. “Retailers need to make sure that their jewelry complies with state laws to protect Californians from hazardous lead exposures. Consumers expect Styles for Less to do better.” Yesterday, the California attorney general sent Styles for Less legal notice of the jewelry violations.

The Styles for Less jewelry includes twelve pieces with metal components that contain lead in violation of California law: the highest lead content is in a metal component of a necklace, which contains 92% lead. Seven pieces of Styles for Less jewelry included components containing more than 80% lead. One other piece, labeled“lead free,” has a component containing 78% lead.

California-based Styles for Less, with over 120 locations in CA, NV, FL & AZ, calls itself a “junior and misses retail store.” Junior generally refers to “tween” and teenage girls, who are particularly at risk from lead exposures, as are women of child-bearing age. Studies have linked lead exposure to infertility and other health risks, and a recent study concluded that lead exposure during pregnancy could have “lasting and possibly permanent effects” on a child’s IQ.

In addition to Styles for Less, in the past month CEH has notified three other jewelry retailers of lead and cadmium violations, including high lead levels in a necklace from Windsor Fashions, and cadmium violations in Christian-themed cross and rosary jewelry from MetroPark and C2:8.

CEH purchases jewelry from retailers throughout California and screens it for lead risks for the Proposition 65 Jewelry Testing Fund. The nonprofit is investigating jewelry for compliance with the California lead-in-jewelry law under a grant administered by the California Attorney General.

CEH has a fifteen-year track record of protecting communities from the health impacts of toxic pollution and has previously uncovered lead and other toxic health threats to children and families from wood playground structures, toys, vinyl baby bibs and lunchboxes, imported candies, children’s jewelry, children’s medicines, and many other products. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices. Last year, the San Francisco Business Times bestowed its annual “Green Champion” award to CEH for its work to improve health and the environment in the Bay Area and beyond.

-30-