Lead is a neurotoxin that is particularly hazardous to young children and has been shown to cause brain development and function impairment, even at low levels. According to the report, New York State’s Children and the Environment, by the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai, lead is linked to arrested developmental processes in the brain that can lead to permanent and irreversible consequences.
High concentrations of lead have been consistently found in jewelry, particularly inexpensive jewelry that is marketed to children. This is a significant concern because children are far more likely to put these items in their mouths, increasing exposures.
This legislation prohibits the sale of children’s jewelry when it contains more than 40 parts per million (ppm) of lead, but less than 600 ppm of lead, unless a warning statement indicating the product contains lead and may be harmful if eaten or chewed is present.
The inclusion of a warning on the jewelry or the jewelry’s container highlights the harms associated with lead, and allows parents to be aware of the toxin before purchasing the product, or, if purchased, allows them to be vigilant in ensuring children do not put the jewelry in their mouth.
While this bill does much to protect children from the very real health impacts caused by lead, one limitation is the warning is not required if the jewelry containing lead is “inaccessible to the child through normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse.” By excluding this category and allowing the manufacturer to determine if the product is ‘inaccessible’ to the child, and therefore not provide the warning, the consumer’s ability to weigh the risks of lead when deciding whether to purchase the jewelry is undercut.
This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law by requiring children’s jewelry that contains a certain amount of lead be labeled with a warning stating such contents before being sold.