Attorney General Becerra Announces Settlement with Companies Charged with Selling Lead- and Cadmium-Tainted Jewelry
Announces legislation with Senator Mitchell (SB 647) to Protect the Public from Toxic Metals in Jewelry
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Acting Director Meredith J. Williams today announced settlements resolving allegations against five jewelry distributors for selling jewelry containing excessive levels of lead and, in one instance, cadmium. The companies, located in Los Angeles and Santa Clara Counties, offered for sale and sold jewelry for adults and children with lead or cadmium at levels in violation of California law. In some cases, the jewelry exceeded the legal amount by 1,000 times. In addition, one of the companies misled consumers by labeling jewelry as “lead-free” even though it contained unlawful levels of lead.
“Lead and cadmium are highly toxic and can cause serious health problems, even at low levels of exposure, and especially for children” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today’s settlements should send a strong message to anyone who would put profits ahead of public health. It doesn’t pay – the California Department of Justice will hold you accountable.”
“It is common knowledge that exposure to lead causes real and permanent harm,” said Senator Mitchell. “What is less well known is that lead is a common ingredient in jewelry. Also less well known is that cadmium is another toxic metal commonly found in jewelry. This bill takes into consideration the exposure to children and adults, the impact on industry, and the feasibility of the limits. It strengthens California’s lead and cadmium jewelry laws by establishing science-backed standards that have demonstrated success in both North America and Europe.”
Lead and cadmium are toxic metals that can cause severe and chronic health effects including neurological impairments, kidney damage, seizures, comas, and death. Young children are especially susceptible to these adverse health effects, because their bodies and brains are still developing. Despite widespread publicity and concern about this problem, and in some cases repeated warnings from DTSC, the defendants continually violated the law in pursuit of profit, leaving the public to suffer the consequences.
The settlements resolve allegations that the defendants violated California’s Metal Containing Jewelry Law and the Unfair Competition Law, and made untrue or misleading advertising claims. These settlements, filed as stipulated judgments, collectively award the State $83,362 in monetary penalties and include orders to comply with all statutes and regulations applicable to the manufacture, distribution, or sale of jewelry in California. The companies also agree to sell only jewelry that has been screened or tested before offering it for sale.
Defendants out of Los Angeles County:
- Peer JS, Inc. (Peer JS) will pay a penalty of $27,771;
- Obedebom, Inc. (Sun’s Trading) will pay a penalty of $20,000;
- Andrea and Paulo Corporation (Andrea Bijoux) will pay a penalty of $13,416; and
- Seven Star Fashion Accessory (Seven Star) will pay a penalty of $7,175.
The Defendant out of Santa Clara County, Le Belle Merchandise Corp (Le Belle), will pay a penalty of $15,000.
Additionally, in an effort to protect the public from toxic metals in jewelry, Attorney General Becerra and Senator Holly Mitchell (D – Los Angeles) have joined together to update our current laws pertaining to jewelry. SB 647, introduced by Senator Mitchell on February 22, 2019, would improve the state’s outdated metal-containing jewelry laws to better reflect current and international science on the toxicity of lead and cadmium in jewelry.
Since 2006, Congress, Canada, the European Union, and the World Health Organization all recognize that lead and cadmium pose a higher risk and are more toxic than what is tolerated in California’s current law.
SB 647 strengthens CA’s lead and cadmium jewelry laws by establishing science-backed standards that have demonstrated success in both North America and Europe. Specifically, SB 647 does all of the following:
- Adopts the federal standard for lead in children’s jewelry (<100 ppm);
- Establishes a cadmium standard for paint and surface coating of children’s jewelry pursuant to the ASTM International standard (<75 ppm);
- Amends the definition of children’s jewelry to conform with Canada’s definition (jewelry intended for children under 15 years of age); and
- Applies the EU lead jewelry standard (<500 ppm) to adult jewelry.
Pictures of the jewelry may be found here.