Heavy Metal: H&M Strikes Again

It’s the third strike this month against H&M: first there was the disposable clothing incident, then the not-so-organic cotton, and now a settlement over unlawful levels of lead in their handbags. 

From the Center for Environmental Health

A federal law that went into effect last year requires that materials in products for children contain no more than 300 parts per million (ppm) of lead. But there is no federal standard for lead in purses. Under the CEH agreements, purses sold in California from all of the companies will ultimately be made with materials that contain no more 300 ppm of lead, with an even stricter standard for some materials.

Last year, CEH found purses and one wallet from the four companies that, according to independent lab tests, contained between 13 times and more than 115 times the 300 ppm standard reached in the settlement. Testing on a small sample of other purses also showed that weathering can dramatically increase the amount of lead that wipes off of them, suggesting that lead in purses can become an even greater hazard as the purses age.

Lead is listed by the EPA and other federal and state agencies as a cancer-causing chemical, and lead exposure has been linked to higher rates of infertility in women, an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure, among other health problems. Scientists are increasingly concerned that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for pregnant women and young children.

Those bags might not come so cheap after all.

A few of the other brands with high lead levels included on CEH’s list include: American Eagle, Charlotte Russe, Billabong, Bloomingdale’s, Diesel USA, Volcom, Coldwater Creek, Forever 21, Kate Spade, Saks & Company, and Tory Burch.

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