High levels of lead have been found in dozens of vinyl and faux leather women's handbags, purses and wallets purchased from Bay Area outlets of major retailers.
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has advised the accessories were found to violate California standards for lead exposure under the state's Proposition 65 consumer protection law. The material on the accessories tested at up to 90 times higher than the federal lead paint standard (federal regulations limit lead in paint to no more than 600 ppm).
"We know that women use their purses to carry almost anything, but most women would be shocked to learn that they are carrying lead in their purses," said CEH Research Director Caroline Cox.
"With safer materials available, there is no reason that anyone should be selling these lead-tainted products."
Purses and other accessories found with high lead levels were purchased from major retailers, including Target, WalMart, Macy's, Kohl's, Sears, JC Penney's, Ross, and other Bay Area stores. Products with high lead levels were found at all but five of the 21 retailers from which the nonprofit shopped. Brands found with high lead levels include Nine West, xhilaration (a Target store brand), Rosetti and several others.
CEH has initiated legal action against the retailers and accessory makers today for violating Proposition 65.