A groundbreaking new investigation by a consumer watchdog group is raising the question: Is there a hidden danger in purses, an accessory that millions of Americans never leave home without? The Center for Environmental Health found lead in handbags sold at one out of four retail stores it visited.
The consumer group said that it discovered lead in the sides of 43 of the 300 purses it tested in a lab, even though hundreds of handbag manufacturers signed a court settlement to limit the lead in their products.
The five purses that contained the most lead were made by Tory Burch, Guess, House of Harlow, Nine West and Charlotte Russe.
The group said its concern was that lead can rub off products such as purses and get into the body of a woman or her children.
"Lead is stunningly toxic," said Michael Green, the group's executive director. "We find it really distressing that some of these companies had this problem."
The lab results showed the Tory Burch purse contained nearly 200 times more lead than the limit permitted by the legal agreement with the Center for Environmental Health.
"This is one of the highest levels of lead we have ever found in a consumer product," Green said.
Tory Burch, whose firm was on the list, told ABC News that she was appalled at the findings.
Statement From Tory Burch
- We take compliance very seriously and have strict testing protocols
- Based on the report we are doing a full investigation including a review of the testing methodologies
- Until we have an opportunity to review the report's findings in their entirety we cannot comment further
- Please rest assured that thus is a top priority for our organization
Nine West said that it had "pulled the product in question from all stores."
Nine West takes customer safety very seriously and has clear policies in place to ensure its products are compliant with all applicable state and federal safety standards, including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements concerning lead and other unnecessary substances. Nine West's business is premised upon providing its customers with quality products that are both safe and fashionable. The product in question was purchased from an outside vendor and was not manufactured by Nine West. The Company received a written statement of compliance from the vendor prior to placing the product in stores. A small number of units of this product (approximately 400 units) were purchased from the outside vendor for sale in Nine West's outlet stores. The Company has taken immediate action to pull the product in question from all stores and is investigating this allegation further.
Guess chose not to comment. House of Harlow and Charlotte Russe had not responded by airtime.
The Center for Environmental Health said brightly colored purses made of plastic or vinyl were the most likely to contain lead. It suggested purchasing leather or fabric goods to have a better chance that all you're carrying is your purse.