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High Levels of Lead and Cadmium Found in Children’s Jewelry

Seattle law firm investigates retailers and manufacturers

Published on: March 22, 2016

Photo credit: Keller Rohrback

All that glitters isn’t safe. Perhaps you’ve already read The Seattle Times article about toxic jewelry sold alongside five dresses designed for young girls. Now Seattle law firm Keller Rohrback is investigating retailers and manufacturers connected to the manufacture and sale of the jewelry.

To recap, the Washington Department of Ecology recently tested 27 pieces of jewelry and found five pieces contained very high levels of lead or cadmium. Both materials are toxic to people, even at low concentrations. The dresses currently under investigation by Keller Rohrback include:

  • Xtraordinary sparkle glitter knit popover dress (UPC 601350728400) manufactured by SWAT Inc.

  • Soulmates Girl caged back three-quarter-sleeve shift dress (UPC 613204330110) manufactured by Big Strike Inc. (coral-colored dress with gold key charm)

  • Beautees ivory dress with gold-colored bow charm (UPC 885872676146) manufactured by KWDZ Manufacturing

  • My Michelle Girls floral dress with necklace (UPC 030121774016) manufactured by Kellwood Co.
  • My Michelle Girls lace-mesh dress with necklace (UPC 030121773897) manufactured by Kellwood Co.

I spoke with Amy Williams-Derry, a partner at Keller Rohrback, about this news and what parents can do.

Photo credit: Keller Rohrback

Walk me through how this investigation works. What’s the timeline for filing a suit?

It’s an emerging fashion trend to sell dresses marketed to young girls along with coordinating jewelry. The dresses tested by the Department of Ecology are all available for sale in children’s sizes 7 to 12. Ecology’s testing lab tested 27 of these and five of them had shockingly high levels of toxic metals.

Our investigation focuses on the jewelry sold with five of the dresses. Based on the small sample size tested, we have a reasonable suspicion that there are other products like these necklaces out there also being marketed and sold to young children. We are eager to talk with consumers about the jewelry sold with these five dresses and to also find out what other products parents are worried about. We are encouraging families who are concerned to contact us.

If we believe there is a basis to file a lawsuit, we will consider doing so. At this point, we are investigating and investigation may take a matter of days or a matter of weeks. It depends on what we find.

How dangerous are these necklaces on these five dresses?

The maximum acceptable level for cadmium in the Washington state Children’s Safe Products Act, which became effective in July 2009, is 0.004 percent by weight (that’s less than 1 percent). If you look at two of the dresses, the ivory one’s necklace was 93 percent cadmium by weight. The black and white dress’s necklace was 98 percent cadmium by weight.

Put another way, 40 parts per million of cadmium is the maximum level authorized under the statute, and yet Ecology found that the necklace sold with the black and white dress has 984,000 parts per million of cadmium.

Ecology also tested inexpensive children’s jewelry sold separately from clothing, but the highest levels of toxic metals were found in jewelry sold with clothing. This suggests that the children’s apparel industry may not be acting with the requisite caution in its supply chain.

Having had young daughters, I know that they immediately put necklaces in their mouths. What should a parent of young children think about jewelry for kids in general?

In light of this report, parents should think twice about buying any children’s apparel that is sold with jewelry, and they should exercise extreme caution with children who are prone to putting things into their mouths. Fundamentally, however, the responsibility lies with apparel manufacturers and sellers, who should not be offering toxic accessories for sale.

What do you hope to see happen from your investigation?

The goal of our investigation and any lawsuit we may bring on behalf of consumers is to have manufacturers stop the use of these toxic metals in children’s products, make sure the offending products are pulled from the shelves and safely disposed of and to provide consumers who bought these products with a refund and redress for the harm to which they and their children have been exposed. In short, the goal of a lawsuit would be to stop the production and sale of these unsafe necklaces and remediate the exposure to them.

Learn more

The Department of Ecology has provided an FAQ about the testing of children's jewelry.



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