Over 12 businesses in California have been accused of selling costume jewelry with a high lead content. Some of the jewelry, marketed to both children and adults, had over 1,000 times California's legal limit for lead. The state is cracking down on its enforcement of the lead content in various products. Additionally, 16 companies are now the subjects of a lawsuit alleging they sold jewelry marked as lead-free when, in fact, it was not.
According to The Huffington Post, the Department of Toxic Substances Control conducts spot checks on factories and stores to protect consumers from toxic exposure. The department checks earrings, necklaces, tiaras and hair clips for lead content. Usually, the jewelry found with high lead content is inexpensive.
The deputy director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control said that these were not isolated cases and that just about any business selling fashion jewelry likely has products with excessive lead content. The state's legal lead limit is 600 parts per million for children and 60,000 parts per million for adults.
In one instance, investigators inspected a business three times. The inspectors found lead levels that exceeded the legal limit by 900 times in about 23 pieces of jewelry from a supplier.
Lead jewelry is especially dangerous to children because they tend to suck and bite on the jewelry. Lead ingestion can lead to reduced IQ, learning problems, brain damage and behavioral problems in toddlers and infants.
In addition to jewelry with high levels of lead, the state is also targeting jewelry with high levels of cadmium. If the soft metal is ingested over a period of time, a person could suffer from kidney and bone damage. Cadmium levels are regulated by the state at 0.03 percent by weight.
For those who suspect their child has been injured or otherwise made ill by ingesting lead or cadmium in jewelry, contacting a products liability attorney will help ensure their rights are protected.
Source: Huffington Post, "Lead In Jewelry: California Testing Reveals Dangerous Levels of Lead Despite Continual Warnings ," Alicia Chang, July 17, 2012.