California Cracks Down on Lead-Filled Jewelry

The California Attorney General’s Office has filed a complaint against 16 jewelry businesses that have allegedly been selling jewelry containing high levels of lead.

The complaint charges that 16 companies violated California’s Metal-Containing Jewelry Law by selling costume pieces with high amounts of lead. In some cases, the companies are also charged with uttering misleading advertising claims by representing the jewelry as “lead-free.” 

A statement from the state’s Center for Environmental Health, also a party to the suit, says that from November 2009 to May 2012, officials visited 11 stores and warehouses. During those visits, investigators discovered 343 jewelry items, some of which were imported from Asia, that contained lead levels exceeding the legal limits.  An analysis by the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s environmental chemistry lab found that some items exceeded the legal limit of the impacted metals by as much as 1,000 times, the statement said.

“California has had laws on the books since 2006 restricting the lead content in jewelry, yet we continue to see widespread violations of these safeguards,” said DTSC deputy director of enforcement Brian Johnson in a statement. “Jewelry sellers and suppliers know that it is not acceptable to sell toxic jewelry, especially children’s jewelry. Today’s complaints make good on our commitment to take action against those who violate these laws.”

View a fact sheet on the California law.

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