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Progress Made, but Some Handbags Still Pose Lead Threats

June 22, 2012 Comments off

Progress Made, but Some Handbags Still Pose Lead Threats

Source: Center for Environmental Health

Testing this spring of nearly 300 handbags, purses, wallets and other accessories purchased from Bay Area outlets of leading national retailers found dozens of products still contain high levels of lead. As seen tonight on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced that independent lab tests it commissioned by the found high levels of lead in purses or wallets from Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom Rack, Forever 21, and many other retailers. Lead levels in the products range from nearly three times to more than 195 times higher than the level agreed to in a 2010 settlement between CEH and dozens of retailers, producers and distributors of the products.

Federal law limits lead in children’s products, but there is no federal standard for lead in adult handbags or wallets. In June 2010, CEH set a landmark industry standard by reaching legal agreements with more than 40 major retailers and vendors of handbags and other accessories sold in stores nationwide. The agreement called for no more than 300 ppm of lead in most materials used in handbags. CEH has since reached similar legal agreements with nearly 200 handbag producers, distributors and retailers.

Since February, CEH has purchased and tested nearly 300 handbags, purses, wallets, and clutches from Bay Area outlets of major retailers and online retail outlets. Lead-tainted handbags or other accessories were found at 21 retailers. More than 300 parts per million (ppm) of lead were found in materials used in 43 products. Ten of the 43 products were found with materials containing lead levels in excess of 10,000 ppm; lab testing of one Tory Burch brand wallet from Neiman Marcus found 58,700 ppm of lead in, more than 195 times higher than the 300 ppm standard.

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. Scientists are increasingly concerned that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for pregnant women and young children. A recent study concluded that lead exposure during pregnancy could have "lasting and possibly permanent effects" on a child’s IQ, and another 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 development. A 2009 study showed that chronic low-level lead exposures in young women could lead to impaired mental functioning as they age.

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Lawsuit Launched to End Mislabeling of “Organic” Personal Care Products

June 20, 2011 Comments off

Lawsuit Launched to End Mislabeling of “Organic” Personal Care Products
Source: Center for Environmental Health

Dozens of shampoos, lotions, toothpastes,and other personal care products sold by national retailers including Target, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Whole Foods and other stores are mislabeled as organic, in violation of California law, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH). Several of the products, including products intended for children, contain potentially toxic ingredients, including chemicals suspected of causing asthma, disrupting hormones, or causing cancer and other health problems.

he USDA has not created its own rules regarding cosmetic products, but it has approved California’s organics program, including the state’s rules regarding cosmetics and personal care products. The California Organic Products Act of 2003 outlines rules for labeling of organic personal care products, requiring that any product using the term “organic” on the front of the package must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may only use the term “organic” on the ingredient list.

But in its purchasing in May and June, CEH found dozens of products made by 26 companies that are labeled on the front as “organic” yet contain few or, in some cases, no organic ingredients, based on the ingredient lists on the items. Items included products made by major national companies, including Hain-Celestial (one of the largest US organic companies), Alliance Boots (a leading UK cosmetics maker), Kiss My Face, and other major brands. The products were purchased from Target, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Whole Foods, and local natural products retailers in the Bay Area. In addition to the false labeling suit, in May CEH joined with Rosminah Brown in filing a class-action suit against Hain-Celstial for its mislabeled products.

+ Mislabeled “Organic” Personal Care Products

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