LOS ANGELES (CN) – California sued 16 jewelry retailers and suppliers, claiming they sell lead-laden children’s jewelry as lead-free, and that some do so “even when the jewelry contains more than 1,000 times the allowable lead.”
Attorney General Kamala Harris seeks civil penalties and injunctions. She claims the defendants sell their stuff “in pursuit of profit,” without regard to public safety.
“Defendants are entities that manufacture, ship, sell, offer for sale, or offer for promotional purposes jewelry for retail sale or promotional purposes in California,” the Superior Court complaint states. “Often the jewelry contains lead that far exceeds the legal limits placed on lead in jewelry sold or offered for sale or promotional purposes in the state. Despite widespread publicity and concern about this problem, and in some cases repeated warnings from the Department [of Toxic Substances Control], during the last three years the Department has traced hundreds of styles of jewelry that violate the lead standards to defendants. Some of the jewelry is intended for young children, and almost all of it is falsely labeled as being lead-free or in compliance with lead standards, even when the jewelry contains more than 1,000 times the allowable lead.”
The attorney general says: “These unlawful practices can result in adults and children alike being exposed to a toxic metal with potentially severe acute and chronic health effects including headaches, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, constipation, muscle soreness, anemia, neurological impairments such as stumbling or loss of concentration, seizures, encephalopathy, coma, and, at high enough levels, death.
“Young children are especially susceptible to adverse health effects from lead exposure because their bodies and brains are still developing. Even mild episodes of lead poisoning can cause persistent neurological impairments resulting in behavioral problems and learning disabilities, among other acute and chronic health effects. Leaded jewelry poses a particular danger because children often place jewelry in their mouths, which can result in higher lead absorption and serious health effects, especially if the jewelry is accidentally swallowed.”
The state found children’s jewelry from defendant Joia Trading with lead levels 1,000 times the legal limit in 2009, the complaint states.
“A year later, during an inspection in December 2010, the Department identified more than 175 styles of jewelry with excess lead, some with nearly 100 percent lead in the metallic clasps,” it adds.
The state claims that Joia Trading often labeled its jewelry as “‘lead free'” or “‘lead nickel free'” or represented that the products contained safe levels of the metal.
Joia’s suppliers, defendants Ann Kim and Luxy Accessories, were also found to be noncompliant, the state says.
“Of the 45 styles of jewelry the Department screened and tested at Luxy Accessories, twenty-one violated the Metal Containing Jewelry law. Among the noncompliant items the Department identified at Luxy Accessories was a pair of children’s earrings shaped like teddy bears that contained 900 times the legal limit of lead and a hair clip for children represented as ‘Lead Free Nickel Free’ that contained lead levels 20 times the legal limit,” the complaint states.
The state says it “suspects” the companies have continued to sell jewelry with lead exceeding legal limits and make “false and misleading statements about lead content” to fool consumers.
The state seeks fines of up to $2,500 for each violation of the Health and Safety Code and the Business and Professions Code.
Here are the defendants: Joia Trading, Inc; Tiffany Creations, Inc. dba AllJoy Supply; Adore Accessories Corporation dba Ana Trading Company; AF Designs Co., Inc. dba Ann Kim Fashion Accessory; Asiana Trading, Inc. dba Da Big, Inc.; Eastern Nationwide Supply, Inc.; EFM Group, Inc.; Jove Imports, Inc.; Luxy Accessories, Inc.; Du-Bin Kim; Hyun Hee Kim dba Miju International; Young Chul Yoon dba Rising Sun; Sam’s Accessories, Inc.; Roy & John Imports, Inc. dba RJ Imports; S.G. Imports, Inc.