Purses and Other Accessories
Many handbags, purses, wallets, belts and other accessories are made with faux-leather plastics and/or dyes that contain high levels of lead. Lead exposure has been linked to increased rates of infertility in women and to impaired mental development in children, so purses with high levels of lead pose a particularly serious threat to young women and mothers. Lead exposure has also been linked to an array of other health problems, including increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.
In 2009, CEH began investigating and testing purses and other accessories for lead. We found high levels of lead in hundreds of these products, most often in items in bright colors such as yellow, green, orange, and red. CEH took legal action against major brands and retailers for sales of lead-tainted purses, including Nordstrom, Forever 21, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Juicy Couture, BCBG, and TJ Maxx and many others. Our work resulted in legal agreements with these and more than 200 major fashion brands and retailers, requiring them to eliminate lead risks from their purses and accessories.
Since the beginning of 2012 we have been checking up on these brands and retailers. We test their purses, belts, and shoes for lead to make sure that they are complying with these legal agreements. Since we started our work, there has been a noticeable decrease in the prevalence of lead-tainted items, but we are still finding too many toxic purses and other accessories. To stay updated on our latest finds, you can follow this project on Instagram @CEH_DotOrg. You can also find out more information from our blog and recent press coverage by ABC News and Good Morning America.