More Lead Found In Children's Jewelry

Monday, November 06, 2006

Six months ago, a 7 On Your Side investigation found children's jewelry contaminated with lead on Bay Area store shelves. Now a follow-up investigation is finding still more lead-tainted jewelry products.

Our latest investigation has uncovered a repeat offender. The manufacturer tells 7 On Your Side it is taking immediate steps to prevent this from happening a third time.

We randomly tested two dozen pieces of jewelry in May for lead contamination using an inexpensive swab test available at most hardware stores.

Lead poisoning has been connected to behavioral problems and learning disabilities in children.

Our test uncovered two products contaminated with lead. An independent certified laboratory in Dublin later confirmed our findings.

Six months later, we went to a Pac Sun store and found two pieces of jewelry that looked similar to one that tested positive in May. Both a swab test conducted by 7 On Your Side and independent testing by a certified lab confirmed our suspicions.

The necklace made by Bullhead tested more than 1,400 times above the legal limit set by a recent lawsuit by the state Attorney General..

A bracelet made by Element and also bought at Pac Sun tested 317 times above the legal standard in California.

Michael Green, Center for Environmental Health: "We're confident that all of the companies eventually are going to change these practices, not necessarily because they're good companies or bad companies, but because the market will demand it."

Michael Green is executive director of the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland. His group joined the state Attorney General and sued more than 200 retailers, suppliers and brands for selling lead tainted jewelry. Settlements have been reached with nearly 100 companies.

Still outstanding is a lawsuit against Pac Sun, where we bought both jewelry pieces for our latest round of testing. The company did not return numerous phone calls seeking comment. But Element told us it had sent letters out to retailers recalling the bracelet we tested. It also says it's hired a lab in Pasadena to make sure all its metal products don't contain lead.

Element declined to give us a copy of its recall letter. But the Center for Environmental Health says it is close to reaching a settlement with the company.

This is the second time 7 On Your Side has found a detectable amount of lead in an element product. The company responded back in May by recalling another bracelet we tested.

Michael Green: "These products are designed for kids, whether it has a Mickey Mouse on it or whether it's just a $5 dollar piece of jewelry. And so parents actually should make sure that they're testing this to find out whether their kids' toys are safe."

Efforts to reach a representative for Bullhead were unsuccessful.

To find out how to do your own testing, click on the link below:


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