Press Releases

Jewelry Labeled “Lead Free” and for Kids Found with High Levels of Lead

The California Attorney General, acting on findings of the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), has notified Rainbow Apparel of America, Inc., owners of the national retail chains Rainbow and 5-7-9 stores, of extremely high levels of lead found in jewelry purchased from the stores this May. Test results showed that a heart pendant on one adult piece was 97% lead, while a clasp on a piece labeled “Kids” and “Lead Free” was 87% lead.

Fifteen different metal jewelry pieces from Rainbow and 5-7-9 stores tested with lead levels between 57% and 97%, and one vinyl piece contained nearly 5 times the lead limit for plastics. This is the fourth time that CEH has found Rainbow in violation of the law on lead in jewelry in a little over a year.

“After all the attention to lead-tainted products, it’s shocking to find a company repeatedly selling lead-contaminated jewelry,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “Shoppers should know that when you buy Rainbow jewelry, you may be buying a hunk of nearly pure lead.”

Scientists are increasingly concerned that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for pregnant women and young children. In 2006, a 4-year old boy died after swallowing a pendant from jewelry that was over 90% lead. The Attorney General’s letter to Rainbow warns of the potential for similar consequences from the retailer’s jewelry, stating that “Some of the jewelry at issue here has components that would be highly toxic, and potentially lethal, if ingested, and all of it contains sufficient lead to contribute to long-term health risks.”

CEH conducts lead testing on jewelry it purchases from retailers across California. The nonprofit is investigating jewelry for compliance with a legal agreement and with California law using a grant from the Proposition 65 Jewelry Testing Fund. The fund was established through litigation brought by the California Attorney General, CEH, and others.

CEH has previously uncovered lead threats to children from toys, vinyl baby bibs, children’s jewelry and other products. CEH has a twelve-year track record of protecting children from hidden health hazards in consumer products 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.

For more on CEH’s work on lead in jewelry, see

For more on the California jewelry law, see