For Immediate Release: July 13, 2007
Contact: Elliot Burg
Assistant Attorney General
Montpelier - Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt issued a warning today about the dangers of lead in children’s jewelry, following the discovery of a highly lead-contaminated charm at a hospital gift shop. Lead can cause serious health problems, including a decrease in IQ level, particularly if ingested by children under the age of six.
In laboratory tests, the metal charm, shaped like a small typewriter, was found to contain 55,176 parts per million of lead, almost 92 times the maximum set by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and over 5,000 times the lower limit urged by the Vermont and New York Attorneys General in comments filed with the CPSC in March 2007. According to the Department of Health, mouthing or swallowing an item containing the amount of lead found in the charm could increase a small child’s blood lead level sufficiently to cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to acute toxicity requiring medical intervention.
The charm in question was sold by the gift shop at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. The gift shop has been notified, and all charms that could potentially pose a health hazard have been removed. The Attorney General is investigating the source of the charm, which appears to have been manufactured in China.
This year alone, the CPSC has issued 18 recall notices for almost 6.4 million pieces of children’s jewelry due to lead content, almost all of Chinese manufacture. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reports that lead from computers and other electronic goods discarded in the United States and dumped in China has turned up in inexpensive jewelry exported from China to this country.
In February 2007, Attorney General Sorrell and Commissioner Moffatt released the results of a year-long study of lead poisoning in Vermont, including a 51-page report on lead in consumer products and other exposures (pdf). The report describes a wide range of consumer products found to contain lead, including jewelry, toys and other children’s products. As a result of the report, a bill regulating lead in consumer products (S.152) has been introduced in the Vermont Legislature, where it is currently pending in committee.
Attorney General Sorrell and Commissioner Moffatt strongly advise parents to keep all metal objects, and particularly items like jewelry and keys, away from children under the age of six. For more information on lead poisoning go to Healthvermont.gov/enviro/lead/ lead.aspx, and for a list of recalled products go to www.cpsc.gov.