Lead In Jewelry
Lead has often been used in jewelry, to make the article heavier, brighten colors, and to stabilize or soften plastic. However, lead can be dangerous, even deadly when used in jewelry. The state of California regulates lead in jewelry to help prevent it from harming people.
Why Be Concerned?
Lead is a toxic metal, which doesn't break down in the environment and accumulates in our body. High levels of lead have been found in jewelry, especially inexpensive children’s jewelry.
Exposures to lead can lead to a number of health problems, including:
Children 6 years old and under are most at risk because their bodies are growing quickly. Jewelry containing lead poses a particular concern because children are prone to placing jewelry in their mouths, which can result in absorption of dangerous levels of lead. Lead poisoning is blamed for the death of a four year old in Minnesota who swallowed a lead containing jewelry charm.
The federal government has initiated a large number of recalls of lead-containing jewelry, while California has taken enforcement action against a wide variety of discount stores, department stores, gift shops and vending machine operators.
Metal-containing Jewelry Law
After California enacted the Lead-Containing Jewelry Law to place limits on lead levels in jewelry, some manufacturers replaced lead with cadmium, which is also toxic. In response, California’s legislature amended the Lead-Containing Jewelry law (now known as the Metal-Containing Jewelry Law) to restrict not only lead, but also cadmium, in children's jewelry. Cadmium levels in children’s jewelry must be less than 300 parts per million, by weight. Please see our Cadmium in Children's Jewelry Web page.
Who is Affected by the Metal-containing Jewelry Law?
The Metal-Containing Jewelry Law applies to:
All jewelry is subject to the restrictions set forth in the law. There are separate standards for children's jewelry, for body piercing jewelry, and for all other jewelry.