Children’s Jewelry Kits Contain High Levels of Lead
State Attorney General Barbara Underwood recently filed a lawsuit against Walmart, Target and a toy importer claiming they sold products that contained dangerous levels of lead. The lawsuit filed in Albany state Supreme Court came after testing showed that “Cra-Z-Jewelz” jewelry-making kits, imported by LaRose Industries and sold at the two major stores in 2015 and 2016, contained parts with lead levels up to 10 times higher than the federal limit of 100 parts per million for children’s products.
LaRose’s lawsuit accuses Walmart, Target and LaRose of violating state laws pertaining to selling hazardous toys, deceptive acts, and false advertising by selling the jewelry-making kits in New York between 2015 and 2016. The AG issued a nationwide recall of the jewelry-making kits following the investigation.
But Target and Walmart have refused “take affirmative measures sufficient to ensure that they do not again import, distribute, and sell other toys that place New York children at risk of adverse health consequences from lead exposure,” the lawsuit stated. Underwood added, “No parent should have to worry that their child’s toy may be toxic. These companies imported and sold toys with dangerous levels of toxic lead – jeopardizing the health of New York’s children and breaking the law.”
The lawsuit is seeking monetary penalties of between $70 and $6,000 for each jewelry kit sold in New York as well as a court order requiring the retailers take action to ensure unsafe toys are no longer available for sale.
“Our lawsuit seeks to hold these companies accountable for the failures that allowed lead-contaminated toys on store shelves, while forcing them to take responsibility for the safety of the products they sell,” Underwood said.
Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove responded, “We take our customers’ safety seriously and require our suppliers to meet all safety standards.” He claimed the company removed the product from its shelves and its online storefront as soon as it was informed by LaRose Industries of the recall three years ago. Hargrove added, “We’ve discussed this matter with the New York Attorney General’s office and will address the allegations and demands with the court.”
Target spokesperson Danielle Schumann said the company, too, pulled the kit from its shelves after being informed of the lead issue by the attorney general’s office. She said, “We’re committed to providing high quality and safe products to our guests and we require all of our vendors to follow safety laws and CPSC guidelines for the products they sell at Target.”
The attorney general’s office in 2015 and 2016 purchased a number of Cra-Z-Jewlez jewelry-making kits from stores in New York City, Long Island, and the Syracuse and Buffalo areas. Testing showed that wristbands in several of the kits contained lead levels of 120 to 980 parts per million. The lawsuit is asking that stores conduct random product testing of important toys to ensure imported products have a valid certificate of compliance. The federal limit for lead is 100 parts per million (ppm), as specified by guidelines issues by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The agency states that the “limits on lead content in children’s products have contributed to a successful effort by all federal health and safety agencies to lower the blood lead level in children.”