California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced that it has settled four cases it filed against Los Angeles area retailers for violations of state laws aimed at protecting consumers from toxic levels of hazardous metals in jewelry.
The agency levied more than $200,000 in penalties against four retail jewelry outlets. DTSC in conjunction with California Attorney General obtained a judgment of $145,000 against Luxy Accessory, Inc. for several violations of the Metal-Containing Jewelry Law and for falsely labeling some of the jewelry as being lead-free. DTSC also settled similar claims against Costar Group, Sun’s Trading Co. and Businesses Outshine Inc. for $22,000, $19,830 and $24,960 respectively.
DTSC and the Attorney General’s Office are also pursuing enforcement actions against Seven Star International and Diva Designs. The agencies are engaged in settlement negotiations with both companies.
The settlements are the result of investigations by DTSC in conjunction with the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) that targeted the Los Angeles jewelry industry in 2012. Previously the agency filed complaints against 15 businesses alleged to have been supplying retailers or directly selling tainted jewelry. The majority of the tainted jewelry was discovered at Joia Trading, Inc. Most of the samples tested by DTSC contained lead. To date, Joia and the other companies have settled with DTSC for more than $375,000 in penalties.
The lawsuits allege the companies violated the following statutes:
● The California Metal Containing Jewelry Law
● California’s False Advertising law (Business and Professions Code § 17500); and
● California’s unfair competition law (Business and Professions Code § 17200
California law prohibits the sale, manufacture, or distribution of jewelry that contains excessive amounts of lead and/or cadmium.
Exposure to lead can cause both cancer and reproductive and developmental harm, as well as learning disabilities, aggressive behavior and organ failure. Cadmium, which is also listed under Proposition 65 as both as a carcinogen and reproductive toxicant under has been linked to increased blood pressure, lung cancer when exposure is by inhalation and renal failure.