Recent Press Releases:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 12, 2006
CONTACT: Alexa Engelman, 510-594-9864, Charles Margulis, 510-697-0615 (cell)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

This Holiday Season, Parents Still Need to Look Out for Lead

In the wake of a groundbreaking California legal settlement to end the threat of lead-tainted jewelry that was spearheaded by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced plans to develop federal rules on lead in jewelry. On Monday, the CPSC voted to start a regulatory rulemaking that would limit lead in children’s jewelry. However, according to the agency, its process will focus primarily on metal parts of jewelry, and could take years before safety rules are enacted.

This government action follows the strict California legal standards sponsored by CEH that calls for the elimination of lead in all components of kid’s jewelry. “Because of our work in California, a new standard has been set to protect kids from this dangerous lead exposure,” said CEH Executive Director Michael Green. “Federal bans of these products could take years, so we suggest parents stay on the look out for lead-tainted jewelry.” CEH advocates a regulatory approach that looks at all lead-containing components of children’s jewelry, including imitation pearls and vinyl cords, which have been found in CEH’s research to have high lead levels, and urges CPSC to adopt standards similar to California’s.

Lead jewelry recalls announced by CPSC have become increasingly commonplace. Just this month, the Commission announced a recall of 51,600 children’s lead-containing necklaces sold across the country, and in March a four-year-old boy died after swallowing a lead-tainted charm. But the agency has lagged in developing rules that will hold producers and retailers to a lead-safe standard. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, after Monday’s vote a CPSC spokesperson stated that it could still be years before a federal rule will go into effect.

Since 2004, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has researched and tested hundreds of pieces of jewelry for lead. CEH took legal action against the retailers and manufacturers of these products, resulting in industry wide reformulations and binding agreements with close to 100 companies, including J.C. Penny, Target, Mervyns, Sears, Toys R Us, and Kmart. Children’s jewelry at these stores will fully be lead-safe in September 2007.

This week’s report from Sen. Barak Obama and Rep. Henry Waxman reveals that lead-laden jewelry and trinkets are sold at Capitol building gift stores, and the members are advancing their proposal to ban lead in children’s products. This week also brought mounting evidence about the widespread problem of lead contamination in children’s costume jewelry from an upcoming published study of lead in metal jewelry.

CEH continues to test children’s jewelry and advocate for the adoption of strict standards for children’s health. “It’s our hope that the CPSC will take a protective and comprehensive approach to regulating lead in these common children’s products” added Michael Green, “These harmful products have been found in the seat of our government, and it’s due time for strict standards to reach the federal level.”

Photos of tainted jewelry and other information at http://www.cehca.org/jewelry.htm

CPSC statement at http://www.cpsc.gov/PR/NordLeadToyJewelry.pdf

Star Tribune article at http://www.startribune.com/484/story/869450.html

Study on lead in children’s jewelry, Ashland University: http://personal.ashland.edu/~jweiden/LeadContamination.WeidenhamerClement.pdf

Report on lead jewelry found in the Capitol’s gift shops:

http://www.democrats.reform.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1145

Take Action – Tell the Today Show to Correct Organic Food Misinformation!
In December, NBC’s Today Show ran a story painting organic food as unsafe, leaving viewers with the impression that food grown with toxic pesticides are a “better buy.” Please join CEH in asking the Today Show to get the facts right. See the video clip below, and please email the sample letter to the producers, also below.

Today Show clip online at
http://video.msn.com/v/us/msnbc.htm?g=18cf1bd8-4c53-4cee-b6de-c625b114d0ce&f=05&fg=rss

SAMPLE LETTER TO THE TODAY SHOW

send to [email protected] or call their viewer comment line: 212-664-3499

Today Show

NBC Universal

30 Rockefeller Plaza

New York, NY 10112

Re. How Fresh Is Organic Food?

Dear NBC Today Show Producers:

Your December 4, 2006 segment “How Fresh Is Organic Food?” perpetuated several myths about organic food, with little or no factual support. As a consumer and viewer, I am writing to ask you to do a follow-up story, giving equal time and consideration to the value of organics. Please take the following into consideration:

Your piece failed to adequately address the key health benefit of organics, namely that they are produced without hazardous synthetic pesticides. Many of these pesticides are known to cause cancer, birth defects and other serious health effects.
By asserting that consumers need not buy certain organic varieties, your story perpetuates the false notion that consumers are disconnected from the harmful health effects of industrial food production. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers contaminate our waterways and pollute the air, exposing us to health hazards not only in food but in our environment.
Your piece also confuses the key issue of bacterial contamination of food. Authorities have determined that conventional produce tainted with harmful e.coli 0157:H7 was responsible for two recent food poisoning outbreaks. Your piece somehow manages to ignore the evidence that bacterial contamination in the mainstream food system is responsible for such severe outbreaks (often resulting in death or serious illnesses), and instead uses a small sample and unscientific method to focus on so-called “freshness” bacteria that pose no health threat.
People increasingly want fresh food, rather than food preserved by chemicals for lengthy periods. Your story ignored the growing movement to support local farmers, who grow food organically and/or sustainably. The idea that such local, seasonal foods are less “fresh” than foods that are shipped across the country and that can only be sold as “fresh” after undergoing chemical treatment to maintain their appearance is absurd.
No mention was given to the many health concerns resulting from conventional agriculture, such as the massive overuse of antibiotics in animal production, which has been linked to the spread of antibiotic resistance disease, or the health effects from air and water pollution associated with confined mass livestock operations.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.

(Signed)

Report Released:”Toxic Sweatshops: How UNICOR Prison Recycling Harms Workers, Communities, the Environment, and the Recycling Industry”

CEH-co-authored report investigates and exposes the health and safety hazards of electronic recycling prison work program

View the official press release

View the full report

October 18, 2006: This report examines the e-waste recycling programs run by Federal Prison Industries (FPI), a government-owned corporation that does business under the trade name UNICOR. Since 1994, UNICOR has built a lucrative business that employs prisoners to recycle electronic waste (e-waste). E-waste is a double-edged sword: it is rich in precious materials that can be recycled, but it also contains a cocktail of hazardous chemicals such as lead, mercury, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and cadmium. Some types of discarded electronics are considered hazardous waste by the EPA and other regulatory agencies, researchers, industries, and advocates across the globe.

In the past few years, the storm of complaints about UNICOR’s recycling program from prisoners, prison guards, and others has brought these hidden sweatshops into public view. UNICOR’s captive laborers work in conditions similar to those in sweatshops across the world. Prisoners have few of the labor rights and protections other U.S. workers enjoy. Prisoners are excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act and insufficiently protected by regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which cannot conduct surprise inspections.

Despite media coverage of problems with UNICOR Recycling, prisoners and impacted communities continue to face major barriers in pursuing their rights to be free of exposure to toxics. By publishing this report, the Center for Environmental Health, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, Prison Activist Resource Center, and the Computer TakeBack Campaign aim to uncover and stop the environmental health abuse and exploitation of workers in prisons; expose UNICOR as an unacceptable choice for electronics recycling; and educate institutions, corporations, and individuals seeking responsible electronics recycling options that promote high labor, environmental, and human rights standards.

This report’s principal findings are outlined below:

UNICOR has failed to adequately protect prisoners and staff from exposure to toxics.

When dismantling electronics, prisoners handling toxic components need ventilation, proper tools, and adequate protective gear, as do prison staff working in the area. UNICOR facilities repeatedly failed to provide proper recycling procedures to captive laborers and staff supervisors. The adverse health effects of long-term exposure to the toxic materials in e-waste are costs that families and/or public health services will bear— not UNICOR.

UNICOR has failed to protect communities from hazardous materials.

Poor workplace safety practices affect communities as well. Leroy Smith, a prison health and safety manager, has expressed concerns about prison guards who go home to their families with dust on their clothes. Smith’sattorney Mary Dryovage and Jeff Ruch, director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, have noted that Smith’s claims “were not fully investigated,” including charges that UNICOR disposed of “hazardous metals” and “contaminated mopheads…at county landfills” and that “mop water would be disposed down sewage drains, which would be released into the city waste water treatment plant.”

UNICOR undercuts responsible recycling businesses.

Not all electronics recyclers are the same. Much of what passes as “electronics recycling” is exporting harm — dumping ewaste on poor communities in China, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and other countries. However,a growing segment of the U.S. electronics recycling industry is taking

concrete steps to educate and to protect workers, communities, and the environment. These recyclers are being undermined by UNICOR’s government sweatshop model. UNICOR’s low wages, limited worker protections, and use of outdated equipment allow UNICOR to underbid conscientious commercial recycling operations.

This Back to School Season, Lead is Still on the Lunch Menu for Some Children

More lead-tainted lunchboxes found in recent lab tests

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
September 5, 2006
CONTACT: Alexa Engelman, 510-594-9864 x 310; Charles Margulis, 510-697-0615 (cell)

California watchdog group takes legal action against six more producers and retailers of lead-tainted lunchboxes

Oakland, CA — Recent independent laboratory testing commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has shown that some lead-tainted lunchboxes are still being sold in national chain stores. In testing this summer, the Center found several vinyl lunchboxes purchased at major retailers including Rite Aid, Staples, and Big Lots with elevated levels of lead. One lunchbox tested contained lead levels 24 times the legal limit for lead in paint. The testing found lead in the lining of lunch boxes, where it comes into direct contact with food.

A year ago, CEH brought national attention to the potential lead-poisoning hazard from vinyl children’s lunchboxes and took legal action to stop the sale of the lead-tainted children’s product. CEH has settled lawsuits against a number of companies, two of which – InGear and Fashion Accessory Bazaar – are already offering reformulated products for this season. But over a dozen other companies have yet to take action. Just last week, the non-profit watchdog group filed legal notices against six more companies for producing or selling lead-tainted lunchboxes.

“We are pleased that two leading lunchbox makers took this issue seriously and are making safer products for children in time for this back to school season,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “Their action shows that children’s lunchboxes can be made without lead hazards. So it is hard to understand why so many other producers and retailers are dragging their feet and still selling our children this needlessly risky product.”

Earlier this summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), spurred by the CEH action, sent a notice to makers and suppliers of children’s lunchboxes, calling for an end to marketing of such lead-tainted products. In their letter, FDA noted that “The adverse health effects of elevated lead levels in children are well-documented and may have long-lasting or permanent consequences. Because lead accumulates in the body, these effects can occur even at low exposure levels, and may include delayed mental and physical development, and learning deficiencies.” The agency stated that since “migration of lead to food” kept in children’s vinyl lunchboxes could “reasonably be expected,” FDA urged producers “to refrain from marketing such lead-containing lunchboxes.”

While the recent testing shows that many retailers are still selling lead-tainted vinyl lunchboxes, some retailers have reportedly taken action. In early August, Wal-Mart announced it would stop selling all vinyl-lined lunchboxes, according to news reports. “It’s our hope that other retailers will follow suit, so parents can be sure that their children are safe from lead poisoning this season,” said Green.

Last week, CEH sent legal notices of violation of California’s Proposition 65 (prop 65) law to lunchbox retailers Rite-Aid, Staples, and 99 Cents Only Stores, and to lunchbox producers Cool Gear International, Haddad Accessories, and Global Design Concepts. Prop 65 requires warning labels on products that contain lead or other chemicals that can cause cancer or reproductive harm.

Because some lunchboxes still contain lead, the Center for Environmental Health recommends that parents should be cautious when purchasing a child’s lunchbox. Because the lead is found in vinyl, parents can avoid lead by buying vinyl-free lunchboxes. Parents can also use an inexpensive test kit to check lunch boxes for lead.

For alternatives to vinyl lunchboxes and other information, see http://www.cehca.org/lunchboxes.htm
July 21, 2006

CONTACT: Charles Margulis, 510-697-0615 (cell); Michael Green or Alexa Engelman, 510-594-9864; 510-378-7333 (Michael Green cell)

FDA URGES PRODUCERS TO STOP MAKING LEAD-TAINTED VINYL LUNCHBOXES

Agency warns manufacturers that vinyl lunchboxes may leach lead into food,

posing health risks to children

Oakland, CA – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified makers of soft vinyl (PVC) lunchboxes yesterday that they should stop marketing vinyl lunchboxes that may leach lead into foods. FDA’s letter to manufacturers states that any lead on the surface of a lunchbox lining can be expected to contaminate food and would therefore be a prohibited food additive. Last year, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) brought national attention to the issue of lead-tainted children’s lunchboxes when the nonprofit sued makers and retailers of vinyl lunchboxes for violating California law.

FDA’s notice is the first federal action to stop the sale of lead-tainted lunchboxes. “We applaud FDA for taking this decisive action to protect children’s health,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “It is past time for strong government action to insure our kids are safe from lead at lunchtime.” An email from FDA Consumer Safety Officer Kenneth McAdams to CEH investigative staff stated, “[T]hank you and CEH again for your work on this that first alerted us to the issue, and the help you provided us.”

FDA’s letter to lunchbox makers states that the agency’s position is based on lunchbox testing performed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). But CPSC has refused to take action to prevent lead poisoning risks from lunchboxes, and stated after conducting “preliminary” tests that lead from lunchboxes would not pose health risks. In contrast, FDA’s notice clearly warns lunchbox makers of lead-poisoning risks, stating that since

…some migration of lead [from lunchbox interiors] to food…may be reasonably expected, we urge companies to refrain from marketing such lead-containing lunchboxes….it has been a longstanding objective of the FDA to reduce, to the extent possible, consumer exposure to lead from foods. The adverse health effects of elevated lead levels in children are well-documented and may have long-lasting or permanent consequences.

Recently, many lunchboxes found in stores by CEH include labels suggesting that the products are “lead safe,” or “lead free.” But there is often no explanation of what testing companies did to determine the amount or availability of lead from the lunchbox. For example, CEH purchased Thermos-brand lunchboxes at Target labeled “Tested Lead Safe.” When CEH called Thermos for information, a company representative could not describe the testing method, and instead referred CEH to a June 1 company press release stating that CPSC has found that lead in lunchboxes “would not present a health hazard to children.” Another lunchbox purchased at Wal-Mart is labeled as “Tested Lead Safe,” and contains a tag stating that “Representative samples of this product have been tested for lead according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission…and found to comply with their guidelines.”

In response, CEH has issued a renewed caution: “Parents should take notice that a “lead safe” label on a lunchbox may not provide adequate assurance, if companies are using CPSC’s outdated standard,” said Green. “We urge retailers to be vigilant in informing suppliers that lunchboxes are not safe if they contain any lead that can contaminate food.”

A CEH investigation begun in 2005 has found lead in dozens of children’s lunchboxes bought at major retailers, including Target, WalMart, JC Penny’s, Toys “R” Us and Walgreens. But the retailers were slow to respond, and CEH’s announcement of lead in lunchboxes prompted hundreds of parents from across the country to mail lead-positive lunchboxes purchased at these and other stores to CEH headquarters in Oakland, California. Lunchboxes featuring Superman, Tweety Bird, Powerpuff Girls, and other familiar characters were found with high lead levels.

For more information about CEH’s investigation, including photos of lunchboxes and of “lead safe” notices on lunchboxes, see www.cehca.org/lunchboxes.htm

Landmark Settlement Protects Children from Lead-Candy Risks
Mars and Hershey Among Candy Makers Agreeing to Strong Protections for Children’s Health

June 29, 2006

San Francisco, CA – In a landmark agreement signed today, major candy makers including subsidiaries of Mars and Hersheys have for the first time agreed to strict standards for protecting children from lead exposures in candies imported from Mexico. Government officials and health advocates have long known of the lead-poisoning risks to children from some imported candies, but today’s settlement of a lawsuit brought nearly two years ago by the Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), the California Attorney General, the Los Angeles City Attorney and the Alameda County District Attorney is the first binding agreement that forces the industry to test their products to insure that candy does not pose a health risk to children.

“Today’s agreement is a great victory for children’s health,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “Parents deserve to know that the candy that their children eat is safe, and children deserve to be protected from lead.”

The lawsuits on lead in candy were filed in July 2004 against over thirty candy makers under California’s Proposition 65 law, which requires warnings on products that can expose the public to cancer-causing substances or reproductive toxins. Among the companies signing the settlement today are some of the world’s largest candy makers and the three leading sellers of popular spicy candies from Mexico. The three are Effem Mexico, a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Mars candy company; Grupo Lorena, owned by U.S.-based Hersheys; and the Mexican-based Dulces Vero company.

The candy makers agreed to reducing lead in their products to less than 100 parts per billion of lead. The companies also agreed to contribute to a fund that will be used for outreach on reducing lead risks to California communities that could be most at-risk from lead candy exposures, a fund to assist smaller companies in complying with the agreement, and a fund to provide lead testing equipment used for candy testing. The companies will also pay penalties and attorney fees totaling $954,000, including $100,000 civil penalties and $379,000 in payments in lieu of penalties, and the remainder in investigative costs and attorneys fees.

Based in California and in Mexico, EHC has long been leading the fight to eliminate lead risks from imported candies. Last fall, a bill (AB 121) sponsored by EHC that would make it illegal to sell lead-tainted candy in California was signed into law by the governor. Standards for lead levels under that law are to be released in

July, and the groups involved in today’s settlement believe that their agreement will form the basis for the state’s standards and help fund implementation of the law.

EHC’s Leticia Ayala directs the organization’s lead campaign and said, “These two victories go hand-in-hand. AB121 created the law, but the settlement signals the willingness of the candy manufacturers to start making the necessary changes and provides funds to implement the law. The settlement is historic because it provides for funds to assist smaller Mexican candy companies to come into compliance to prevent children from consuming contaminated candies anywhere in the U.S. or Mexico.”

Along with today’s victory, CEH’s longstanding work to protect children’s health has resulted in elimination of health risks from toxic metals such as arsenic in children’s playground equipment, lead in lunchboxes, lead in jewelry, and lead in baby powder products. For more information on CEH’s work with lead in candy and other consumer products, visit www.cehca.org.

LEADING MANUFACTURER TO ELIMINATE LEAD RISKS FROM CHILDREN’S LUNCHBOXES
February 15, 2006

Oakland, CA — Children’s lunchbox manufacturer InGEAR, the country’s third-leading producer of lunchboxes and coolers, has reached an agreement with the Center for Environmental Health to eliminate lead risks to children from their products in time for this summer’s back-to-school shopping season. The settlement with InGEAR was signed today in San Francisco Superior Court by Judge Ronald Quidachay.

InGEAR, the first company to settle the lawsuits CEH initiated last year against children’s lunchbox makers and retailers, has agreed to set a strict standard for reducing lead in all of its vinyl lunchboxes and coolers. The company also agreed to eliminate its use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC, or “vinyl”) plastic in the interior of lunchboxes, as PVC often contains high lead levels.

“We applaud InGEAR for taking this swift action to protect children’s health,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “Parents shouldn’t have to worry that lead might be lurking in their children’s lunch. We urge other manufacturers and retailers to meet the same safety standards quickly, so all children’s lunchboxes can be free of lead risks by this summer’s shopping season.”

Buffalo Grove, Illinois-based InGEAR has agreed to reduce lead levels in its products to below 200 parts per million (ppm) within 90 days of the settlement. In lab testing, one InGEAR product previously tested at over 5,700 ppm of lead. In its ongoing investigation, lab tests commissioned by CEH have found thirty lunchboxes and coolers made by other manufacturers that contain two to ninety times the federal standard of 600 ppm for lead in paint on toys. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can cause reduced IQ and behavioral problems in children even with low levels of exposure.

In addition to the 200 ppm lead threshold, InGEAR has agreed to phase out the use of PVC entirely in the interior of its lunchboxes within six months and to be PVC-free within two years. PVC is considered the dirtiest of all plastics because it is often made with lead and other harmful additives and can release cancer-causing chemicals when it is produced and incinerated. “One simple way that lunchbox manufacturers can eliminate lead is to stop using vinyl and switch to safer materials that are currently available,” said Green. In addition to other lunchbox manufacturers Igloo, Fast Forward LLC, and Accessory Network Group, CEH has sued retailers including Toys R Us, Walgreens, Ross Stores and others for selling lead-tainted lunchboxes.

Following the CEH lawsuits, the Attorney General of New York last fall announced statewide recalls of lead-tainted lunchboxes made by Fast Forward. The Washington State Department of Ecology and the Connecticut Attorney General have also issued warnings that they will take action to pull lead-lunchboxes from stores in their states.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is currently negotiating with a number of lunchbox manufacturers after lead in excess of limits set in Illinois’ Environmental Protection Act was identified in lunchboxes sold in Illinois; a number of Illinois retailers have pulled suspect lunchboxes off store shelves at Madigan’s request.

With their lunchbox action, InGEAR joins a growing list of businesses, including Microsoft, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Johnson & Johnson that are reducing or eliminating the use of PVC. For more information on companies phasing out PVC, see http://www.besafenet.com/pvc/mspvcrel120105.htm

InGEAR, which sells more than a quarter million lunchboxes and coolers annually, is the third largest manufacturer in the industry and supplies major retailers including Kmart, WalMart, Sears and JC Penney. CEH first sued lunchbox makers and retailers in August 2005 under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxics Enforcement Act, known as “Proposition 65”.

More information about CEH’s investigation can be found at www.cehca.org/lunchboxes.htm
# # #

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Major Retailers Agree to Eliminate Lead Risks from Children’s Jewelry
January 27, 2006

Seventy-One Companies Join Precedent-Setting Agreement to Protect Children’s Health

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced today that major retailers of children’s jewelry, including Target, Kmart, Macy’s, Nordstroms, Claires, Mervyns, Sears, Toys R Us, Disney and dozens of other companies have agreed to eliminate lead exposure risks from jewelry marketed to children and adults. The legal settlement calls for the companies to take swift action to end sales of lead-containing jewelry in California by reformulating their products. The landmark agreement with seventy-one companies creates the first legally binding standards for lead in jewelry in the nation.

CEH initiated legal action against the jewelry companies in late 2003 and, with the California Attorney General, sued the companies in June 2004. In the past few years, there have been numerous cases of children suffering from serious lead poisoning due to jewelry exposures, prompting health warnings and national jewelry recalls. While seventy-one of the companies named in the lawsuits signed the settlement filed in Alameda County Superior Court today, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, and four other companies have not agreed to reformulate the jewelry they sell.

“We applaud the companies who joined this settlement for taking a hard look at this problem and agreeing to get the lead out of children’s jewelry,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “We are hopeful that Wal-Mart and the other companies will soon join these industry leaders in protecting children from unnecessary lead risks.” In addition to Wal-Mart, Jordache, Cornerstone Apparel (Papaya stores), the Gerson Company, and Royal Items have not joined the settlement.

While today’s settlement is legally binding only in California, CEH expects that most if not all the companies will act to protect children nationally from lead jewelry risks. “California is a major market, and it will likely be impractical for companies to have one line of jewelry for the state and another for the rest of the country,” said Green. “Nonetheless, we will continue to monitor the issue nationally and we call on each of the settling companies to make a public commitment to implement these lead reduction standards on a national basis.” CEH will post names of companies that make a national commitment, and those that have not, on its web site at www.cehca.org

The settlement negotiated over the past eighteen months sets strict standards for lead levels in all jewelry components, and requires that lead levels in children’s jewelry be reduced to trace amounts. Under the settlement terms, metal components in and coatings on children’s jewelry must contain less than 600 parts per million (ppm) of lead, while plastic (PVC) components can contain no more than 200 ppm. In lab testing commissioned by CEH, lead levels in PVC cords on costume jewelry ranged from 1400 to 20,000 ppm, and lead levels in a coating on one child’s bracelet tested at over 165,000 ppm. In tests conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and others, metal components often tested at over 500,000 ppm, and as high as 950,000, or 95% lead.

The settlement requires jewelry retailers to inform their suppliers of the reformulation requirements of the settlement within 90 days after it is entered by the court. Once they are informed, suppliers are required to eliminate or significantly reduce lead in jewelry as soon as possible. Each of the companies settling also agreed to pay $25,000, for an aggregate settlement of $1.875 million. The settlement will be used to establish a fund for testing jewelry for compliance in the future, to fund public education efforts on exposures to toxics in metals, and for penalties and reimbursement of legal costs.

More information, including a list of the companies involved in today’s settlement and a list of jewelry brand names, can be found at www.cehca.org

# # #

New York Company Recalls Lead-Tainted Lunchboxes
November 29, 2005
Lunch Box Maker to Pull Hazardous Products from New York Stores

Children’s lunchbox distributor Fast Forward LLC, one of the companies that the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) took legal action against this summer for their lead-tainted lunchboxes, has reached an agreement with the NY Attorney General to recall twenty-two styles of children’s lunchboxes from stores in New York State. In addition, WalMart will voluntarily pull the Fast Forward lunchboxes from their stores nationwide. Fast Forward lunchboxes that tested for high lead levels in independent tests commissioned by CEH included products featuring well-known children’s characters such as Superman, Tweety Bird, and Powerpuff Girls. After independent testing commissioned by CEH showed high lead levels in vinyl lunchboxes that pose a potential health hazard to children, the CEH legal action against lunchbox makers brought national attention to the problem and prompted health officials across the country to conduct their own investigations.

“This is a welcome first step in our drive to protect children from lead in lunchboxes,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “The companies involved in making and selling children’s lunchboxes must now come together to insure that all children are protected. We will continue to pursue our legal action to forge an industry-wide standard for safer lunchboxes.”

The Fast Forward recall puts pressure on other lunchbox makers to follow-suit. CEH testing found levels of lead in lunchbo…