22 Dec

Toxic Lead in Purses, Wallets, and Toys

Posted by Norman F

Back to School, Backpack with rolling wheels

We are in the midst of the holiday season, and toys are flying off the shelves. We want to purchase safe toys made of innocuous materials, but how can we ensure that this is the case?

Center for Environmental Health filed a lawsuit alleging 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. Full report.

In 2007, they tested a Curious George doll and found extremely high levels of toxic lead that could cause life long problems for kids. CEH was able to pressure Congress to pass a law preventing this type of problem.

In 2009, this organization found high levels of lead in purses and other products purchased from major retailers, including Target, WalMart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sears, JC Penney’s, Ross, and other San Francisco Bay Area stores.The offending products were made by Nine West, xhilaration (a Target store brand), Rosetti and several others. CEH filed a lawsuit claiming that the retailers violated Proposition 65, the chemical protection law.

In 2012, the same group found high levels of lead in many purses, wallets, and bags. They found 43 items from 21 major San Francisco Bay Area retailers with hazardous lead levels. It is clear that retailers and manufacturers only react to findings that environmental groups thankfully research. These organizations deserve our donations for helping to keep products safe and healthy.

Unfortunately in 2014 we still have a problem with toxic metals in toys sold to children. A recent report in November 2014 found toxic heavy metals in toys from Lego to Hot Wheels. To add insult to injury, a breast cancer awareness bracelet had carcinogenic cobalt!

Consumers cannot examine every toy with laboratory instruments to determine their composition. Industry needs to take charge and test their products to ensure safety. Clearly everyone needs to pressure lawmakers into passing legislation to force this. The Toxic Substances Control Act is over 35 years old and attempts to overhaul it have been stalled for over 10 years with lobbyists exerting their selfish interests. We need to put the consumer ahead of profits.

So be careful when you are shopping and be thankful we have watch dogs looking out for our health.

Lead in Asian Candy

In August 2012, the same consumer watchdog group  found lead in 14 different plum and ginger candy purchased from San Francisco East Bay retailers including 99 Ranch Market and Marina Foods. Some had 39 times the legal limit in lead. How can you avoid these problems? Avoid all products from China?

Jewelry and Toy Lead Problem – Heavy Metals in Children’s Products

One year and not much has happened. High lead levels were still found in toys from major department stores. US lead standards are designed for products targeted towards kids 13 or younger, they do not apply for products targeted towards those that are older. Products from a Dora the Explorer game set to a child’s belt all had high lead levels, ranging up to 65 times the legal limit. Offending retailers included WalMart, Banana Republic, Lane Bryant, Express, Anchor Blue, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Longs Drugs (now part of CVS Caremark pharmacies)..

Be careful of what you purchase!

January 2010 update: Cadmium is another problem area.

Cadmium is a carcinogen, lead is a toxic, as are the other contaminates.

It is believed that these toxic metals are turning up because irresponsible recyclers are melting down computer parts and other e-waste and using them in these products.

Dancing Alligator, Eco Friendly Green Toy

Green Eco Friendly Toys

Thankfully a cottage industry has arisen in the toy category. Several companies now produce “Green Toys” which are made with eco-friendly materials.

  • No metal parts for safety
  • 100% post consumer recycled plastic material
  • Organic Rubber Wood
  • 100% recyclable packaging
  • No BPA or phthalates in their plastic
  • Made in the USA, not China

Some companies to consider include:

  • Green Toys
  • Blue Orange
  • Plan Toys

Protect yourself

They are also hosting free lead toy testing events in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Consumer Product Safety Commision has a list of recalled items.

Buy a do it at home lead testing kit.


Finding safe toys is a difficult task. Some people avoid no name toys and stick with the large brands assuming they are built with higher quality standards. Unfortunately this technique does not work, name brand toys have been found with high levels of toxic materials.

Without the work of environmental non profits, we would not realize the problems that exist. Consumers need to understand the issues and lobby their politicians accordingly. These local environmental groups also deserve your support.

Posted on December 22nd, 2014
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3 Responses to “Toxic Lead in Purses, Wallets, and Toys”

  1. Ken Says:

    I was just reading about this the other day. Sometimes you just never think of things like this until someone gets sick or worse. From what I am reading these were imports from overseas. It pays to research what you are purchasing before handing over your money. Thanks for the post and the update.

  2. Oh well Says:

    Beware of Matt & nat products, I used to work there and got severe headaches and regularly sick. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the content of the materials because amazingly I feel 1000% times better the day I left. besides, there is no such thing as vegan leather, that is just ridiculous…

  3. Suzanne Says:

    Thank you for the warning on children’s toys. It is amazing that this is still an issue in our world. Thank you for the tips to find toys that are free of toxins!

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