Sue Kwon, CBS 5, April 8, 2009

Center for Environmental Health Finds Lead in Popular Vinyl and Plastic Accessories

(Please click here to view the CBS 5 video report)


The Center for Environmental Health, the same watchdog group that
exposes lead in toys and baby products, tested dozens of vinyl and
faux-leather purses and wallets from major retailers like JCpennys and
Target. (The test did not include colored leather or cotton fabric accessories.)

It found several purses from all but five of the 21 retailers where
researchers shopped, tested up to 90-times higher than the federal
limits of lead allowed in paint. They also violate California's
standards for lead exposure set under Prop 65.

It's unlikely fashion-conscious consumers will toss out their prized
accessories.  But, the CEH said pregnant women should avoid them and
keep them away from babies and young kids. Lead can be ingested as well
as absorbed through the skin according to Research Director Caroline

"If a child is exposed to lead it can permanently effect development of
the brain. Lead exposure in adults is attached to increased risk of
heart attack, stroke and memory problems."

The Center for Environmental Health has sent a notice of violation to
manufacturers and retailers where the tainted items were purchased,
including: Target, Walmart, Macy's, Kohl's, Sears, JC Penny's, and

Some of the brands include: Nine West, Rosetti and Xhilaration from Target.     

Target told ConsumerWatch, "Target is committed to providing
high-quality and safe products to our guests. We require all of our
vendor partners to meet and comply with all applicable laws regarding
product safety, including Proposition 65 and other laws governing lead
in consumer products, to ensure we have the best products on our store
shelves. CEH claims that some handbags, purses and wallets violate
California's Prop 65. We take their claims very seriously and will work
with our suppliers to address the issue when we have been provided with
the information on which CEH bases its claims. If Target finds products
to be non-compliant, we take action to pull the products from our

The researchers tested the same items in different colors and found the lighter shades like silver and white were fine. But, the
bright yellows and reds more often contained lead. So, researchers
said its connected to the coloring in the plastic and vinyl material.