We don’t think much about buying costume jewelry. It’s fun and easy to wear. It also sits on your skin, which is an organ, for hours at a time. And if your children are wearing costume children, they could be mindlessly sticking it in their mouths. Hence why it’s so disturbing to think so much lead (and cadmium–another dangerous component of cheap jewelry) is freely and easily passing through the marketplace.
LOS ANGELES — California is cracking down on more than a dozen businesses accused of selling and distributing costume jewelry containing dangerous levels of lead despite repeated warnings.
State investigators uncovered hundreds of lead-laced trinkets marketed to children and adults, including some pieces contaminated with lead levels more than 1,000 times the legal state limit.
The state was expected to file a lawsuit Tuesday against 16 companies – retailers, wholesalers, suppliers and distributors – doing business in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The companies are accused of violating lead standards and engaging in deceptive practices by falsely advertising tainted jewelry as lead-free.
For the past three years, inspectors at the state Department of Toxic Substances Control conducted spot checks at stores and factories, zapping necklaces, earrings, hair clips and tiaras with hand-held X-ray devices to check for lead. Items with high lead content were then shipped to a laboratory for detailed analysis. Jewelry items containing the toxic metal were mostly inexpensive.
Brian Johnson, deputy director of enforcement, said these were not isolated cases.
“You can walk into most any fashion jewelry business in the LA jewelry district and find similar violations,” Johnson said.
It’s against the law to make, ship or sell jewelry that contains dangerous levels of lead. Children’s jewelry cannot contain lead content exceeding the legal state limit of 600 parts per million. For adults, the limit is 60,000 parts per million.