Oakland, CA–More than 40 retailers and vendors, including Macy’s, Sears/Kmart, Target, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Guess, Victoria’s Secret and Saks, have agreed to set new industry-wide standards limiting lead in handbags, small leathergoods and other accessories including footwear.
The pledge comes as part of a recent $1.7 million legal settlement with the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health (CEH). The advocacy group last year filed a lawsuit against the retailers after finding hundreds of handbags and other accessories on sale containing high levels of lead, which could pose a health threat, especially to pregnant women and women of child-bearing age.
Others Can Opt-In
However, while federal law requires that materials in products for children contain no more than 300 parts per million (ppm) of lead, there is no federal standard for lead in handbags. Under the agreement, retailers and their handbag vendors agreed to apply new standards for materials used in handbags, belts and footwear accessories by December 1. These include:
•No more than 90 parts per million (ppm) of lead in paint or other surface coatings;
•No more than 600 ppm of lead in leather (going down to 300 ppm by December 1, 2011);
•No more than 300 ppm of lead in vinyl (going down to 200 ppm by December 1, 2011);
•No more than 300 ppm of lead in any other materials (except crystals).
Violations of these standards could result in mandatory fines of up to $12,500. The settlement allows other accessories companies to opt-in to the judgment by agreeing to reformulate their products. The companies have agreed to payments totaling nearly $1.7 million, which will go to the State of California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, as well as help fund CEH’s work.
“The settlement means millions of women no longer need to fear that their purse may pose a threat to their health or the health of their children,” said Michael Green, CEH executive director. “We expect that every company that makes, imports, distributes or sells purses and other accessories will join these leading companies in meeting these health standards for their consumers.”
The companies who have agreed to meet the new lead standards are: Acme Accessories, AIJJ (Rainbow, 5-7-9 stores), Aldo, American Eagle, Bag Bazaar, Camuto Consulting (Vince Camuto brand),Coldwater Creek, Diesel usa,DSW Shoe Warehouse, eBags, Express, Fantasia Accessories, Forever 21, Fossil, Guess, Haddad Accessories, H&M, JCPenney, Jones Apparel (Nine West), Kohl’s, Limited, Liz Claiborne(Juicy Couture, Kate Spade), Macy’s/Bloomingdales, Mango NY, Metropark USA, Michael Kors, Mondani, New York & Company (Lerner NY), Pacific Worldwide, Phillips-Van Heusen/Calvin Klein, Ray Enterprises (Hobo Intl), Rosetti, Saks Inc, San Diego Hat,Sanrio (Hello Kitty),Sears,Kmart,Steve Madden, Target, The Dress Barn, TJX Co (TJ Maxx), Urban Brands/Ashley Stewart, Tri-Coastal Designs, Victoria Secret/Bath & Body Works, Viewmark USA.