Press Releases

Handbags, Purses and Wallets Found with High Levels of Lead

Contact: Caroline
or Charles


Oakland, CA-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, according to testing by the Center for
Environmental Health (CEH). 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


"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


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 initiated legal action against the retailers and accessory
makers today for violating Proposition 65.


CEH is advising women, and especially pregnant women, to
avoid vinyl and faux leather accessory bags and to keep these accessories away
from children. Lead was found in bags of all colors, and was prevalent in yellow
and yellow-tinted (eg, green and orange) bags, suggesting that lead could be
contained in the material and/or in the yellow dye.


Scientists are increasingly concerned that there is no
safe level of lead exposure, especially for pregnant women and young children.
Two recent studies, both published in the National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences's peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives,
demonstrated the impacts that lead exposure during pregnancy can have on a
women's unborn child.


One study, investigating children's IQ scores in
relation to their mother's blood lead level, concluded that lead exposure during
pregnancy could have "lasting and possibly permanent effects" on a child's IQ.
The second study showed that lead exposure during the first trimester (three
month period), when some women are not even aware that they are pregnant, had
the most pronounced effects on a child's mental


Lead is also listed by the EPA and other agencies as a
cancer-causing chemical, and lead exposure has been linked to higher rates of
infertility in women, an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and high
blood pressure, among other health problems.


CEH's legal work has previously uncovered lead threats
from toys, vinyl baby bibs, children's jewelry and many other products. CEH has
a ten-year track record of protecting consumers from hidden health hazards and
protecting communities from health hazards related to toxic pollution. CEH also
works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier
alternatives to toxic products and practices.  


The retailers we found selling bags that
contain high levels of lead include:

  1. Kohl's
  2. Target
  3. Macy's
  4. JCPenney
  5. H&M
  6. Wal-Mart
  7. Aldos
  8. Ross
  9. Forever 21
  10. New York and Co.
  11. Ashley Stewart
  12. 5-7-9
  13. Bakers Shoes
  14. Sears
  15. DSW
  16. Anchor Blue
  17. Bloomingdale's
  18. Express
  19. French Connection
  20. Lane Bryant
  21. Pacsun
  22. Sanrio
  23. Tumi
  24. United Colors of Benetton
  25. Victoria's Secret


The brands of bags we found that contain high levels of lead include:

  • Fluff
  • Aldo
  • Ashley
  • Urban Brands
    (Ashley Stewart)
  • Bakers
  • Chinese
  • Lulu
  • Forever
  • Relic
  • Haddad
  • H&M
  • St.
    John's Bay
  • Worthington
  • Nine &
  • Nine
  • Apt.
  • Daisy
  • Liz & Co. (by
    Liz Claiborne)
  • Dana Buchman (by
    Liz Claiborne)
  • Roxy (by
    Quicksilver, Inc.)
  • Rosetti
  • Cul-de-sac
  • Steve
  • Xhiliration (Target
    house brand)
  • Urban
  • No Boundaries
    (Wal-Mart house brand)

Please click here to download a full report about CEH's findings.