Year-Long Investigation Finds Lead-Tainted Jewelry Still Being Sold

Oakland, CA- An
ongoing year-long investigation by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH)
has found jewelry with high levels of lead at five more California retailers. Independent lab
testing found that a metal pendant on a bracelet from Bloomingdales is
more than 67% lead, and metal parts of jewelry from Aeropostale and CVS/Longs
were found with more than 30% lead, according to letters sent to the companies
by the California Attorney General.

CEH began testing jewelry for compliance to California’s landmark lead in jewelry law
last September. In addition to metal pieces from Bloomingdales, Aeropostale and
CVS/Longs, high lead levels were also recently found in plastic cords on
two necklaces from a Lane Bryant store and a bracelet from a Torrid store. The
Attorney General has notified the five companies that their jewelry is in
violation of California
law.

“Today we have some good news and some bad news,” said CEH Executive
Director Michael Green. “The good news is that the jewelry law is working,
as we are finding far fewer problems than before California adopted tough lead standards. The
bad news is that there is still some jewelry with high levels of lead, even in
some higher-end stores, so buyers do still need to beware.”

While most lead-tainted jewelry found by CEH is relatively inexpensive, recent
tests show that even higher-end pieces can contain extremely high lead levels.
The Bloomingdales bracelet, an Ettika-brand peace-sign pendant, was purchased
in San Francisco
last month for $55.85. Earlier this year, CEH found a $200 necklace from Saks
that also contained high levels of lead in violation of California law.

The CEH compliance testing has previously found jewelry in violation of California law at Lane
Bryant, and this is the 17th piece of non-compliant jewelry found at CVS/Longs.
In a letter to CVS/Longs, the Attorney General’s office noted the company’s
repeat violations and requested a meeting to discuss the retailer’s plan to
address its ongoing failure to comply with the law.

Lead in jewelry for adults can pose health threats, especially to pregnant
women or kids who play with their parent’s jewelry. Two recent studies, both
published in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ peer-reviewed
journal Environmental Health Perspectives, demonstrated the impacts that lead
exposure during pregnancy can have on a woman’s unborn child.

One study, investigating children’s IQ scores in relation to their mother’s
blood lead level, concluded that lead exposure during pregnancy could have
“lasting and possibly permanent effects” on a child’s IQ. The second
study showed that lead exposure during the first trimester (three month
period), when some women are not even aware that they are pregnant, had the most
pronounced effects on a child’s mental development.

CEH has purchased jewelry for the Proposition 65 Jewelry Testing Fund from
retailers across California
since last September. The nonprofit is investigating jewelry for compliance
with the California
law under a grant administered by the California Attorney
General.

CEH has previously uncovered lead threats to children from toys, vinyl baby
bibs, children’s jewelry and other products. CEH has a twelve-year track record
of protecting children from hidden health hazards in consumer products and
protecting communities from health hazards related to toxic pollution. CEH also
works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier
alternatives to toxic products and practices.

For more on CEH’s work on lead in jewelry,
see http://www.ceh.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=38&Itemid=53

For more on the California
jewelry law, see http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/HazardousWaste/Jewelry/upload/jewelry-fact-sheet-May-09.pdf