Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lead-Tainted Jewelry: Still Sold in East Bay Stores?

By Anneli Rufus
Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 9:10 AM

Are you or your loved ones wearing lead-tainted jewelry?

The California State Attorney General's office issued its fourth warning in June to the national retail chain Rainbow Apparel, asking the company to stop selling jewelry containing lead, which after long and/or high-intensity exposure can cause nerve and organ damage. California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, posted a devastating report on this matter this week, and has set up two jewelry-screening events for East Bay consumers.

Before issuing each of its four warnings, state officials "tested products from Rainbow Apparel outlets in the Bay Area and found jewelry that exceeded the limits for lead —- including one silver star-shaped pendant labeled 'kids' and 'lead free' that was more than 2,600 times above the legal threshold," according to California Watch's report. "Each time, the New York-based retailer pledged to immediately remove the tainted jewelry. Each time, the state considered the matter closed."

After the fourth warning in June, "California Watch obtained 30 pieces of jewelry from Rainbow Apparel stores in Richmond, Oakland, and Emeryville and sent them to a laboratory for testing. The results: more lead.
Among the six pieces that registered above the legal limit was a pendant that had been part of the June warning letter. It had mistakenly been left on the shelves, a Rainbow attorney said. ...

"During the investigation, California Watch reporters bought 30 jewelry items from the retailer, Rainbow Apparel, which has 35 stores throughout California including eight in the Bay Area. Twenty percent of the items purchased contained unlawful levels of lead."

To help consumers, California Watch is holding two jewelry-screening events this week. Consumers who have bought jewelry from any retailer (not just Rainbow Apparel) are welcome to bring it in and have it tested with an X-ray fluorescence analyzer, which is the same equipment that state regulators use to perform their own lead screenings.

One of the screenings is today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at De Colores Head Start (1153 35th Ave., Oakland). The other is on Sunday, October 10, at the Richmond Flea Market (716 W. Gertrude Ave., Richmond) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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