Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lead found in women’s handbags

Lead found in women’s handbags

LONDON: When it came to realization that the levels of lead being used in children’s toys was off the charts, everyone became very aware of the toys they were buying. High lead levels have been found in other household products including paint and blinds as well. A US-based news channel broke the story that researches found extremely alarming levels of lead in some handbags from top retailers. This means it is time to be conscious of the handbags we are buying for other reasons that just the price tag.

For the most part, genuine leather bags are not the problem. It is the bags made with PVC, polyvinyl chloride, which may contain lead. Manufacturers find PVC useful when making a synthetic handbag, as it gives the bag pliability and can help brighten colors as it is used in pigment.

The Center for Environmental Health went to 100 top retailers, including Target, Macy’s, and WalMart to buy purses and have the bags tested for lead at an independent lab. They used two tests, one was to wipe the bag to see if lead would simply rub off and the other was testing the bag for overall lead content.

What they found was truly frightening.

In some of the bags they tested, they found levels 30 to 100 times higher than the federal limit for lead in children’s items. The problem for women buying bags is there is no federal limit for lead content on handbags, only children’s products and paint. So how could anyone know that their bag could be hazardous to their life and the people around them?

One of the major concerns is women who are wanting to become pregnant, are pregnant, and their children. Children are known to touch everything and put their hands in their mouths. And mom’s handbag is no exception. The CEH found that by simply touching one of these bags, it gave a level of lead higher than the state of California allows, unless the item carries a warning label for cancer and birth defects.

As of right now H&M, New York & Company, and two suppliers agreed to pull bags from their shelves in the state of California, where a lawsuit was filed. They have also agreed to inspect bags and products used closer in the future and educate about toxic health hazards.

Today, the CEH is working closely with 60 additional retailers hoping for a similar outcome. Their hope is that bags being put on the shelves are safe to everyone buying it, using it, or near it and that standards change.

Only problem for us right now is that we do not know exactly which bags from which retailers have high lead content. The upside of this story and research is to make us aware. We need to all be aware of how the products we use on a daily basis could be affecting our health and the health of those around us.


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