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Walmart Jewelry Found To Contain High Levels of Lead

When you buy your kid a sparkly new necklace, you should only have to worry about whether they’ll like the style. But it turns out you need to be worried about something else—toxic metals.

We are disappointed to learn today that a new investigation uncovered nearly 25% of Walmart jewelry tested contained high levels of lead. As we all know, this isn’t safe. Lead is a toxin that adversely affects brain development in children and affects the nervous system. It’s one of the worst-of-the-worst chemicals: it builds up in humans and the environment, it does great harm, and it stays around for a very long time.

Our partner Washington Toxics Coalition tested 24 jewelry products purchased at a Washington state Walmart store, and found eight of them contained high levels of lead. Six of the items tested contained more than 10% lead (100,000 ppm), with one containing almost 36% lead (357,770 ppm). This is over one thousand times the federal standard for lead in children’s products (100 ppm)

This jewelry apparently doesn’t violate the law because Walmart has labeled the jewelry as not intended for children. But this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t end up in kids’ hands or mouths. The jewelry tested had designs that would easily appeal to children, and were hung on low display racks that are easily reached by children. And really, do any of us need lead in our jewelry? Mothers know that children often grab and suck on mother’s necklaces or bracelets. Lead has no business in any jewelry.

And beyond the concern for consumers, workers who stock shelves, unload shipments, and run the registers at Walmart are all coming into contact with these products that contain high levels of lead.

“I’m concerned about the impact this lead exposure is having on my fellow associates and me, not to mention all of the families who shop at Walmart,” Esmeralda Uvalle, OUR Walmart member and 10-year associate with the Mt.Vernon, WA Supercenter.

This finding is especially disappointing on the heels of Walmart’s widely reported declaration a few weeks ago that it would be phasing out 10 (unnamed) toxic chemicals from its store’s shelves. As this testing shows, there is a long road ahead, and we hope that Walmart will take immediate steps to remove these products from the shelves.

“Walmart should act swiftly to get the lead out of all the jewelry it sells,” said Sarah Doll, National Director of Safer States. “This is a great example of why we need smart state and federal laws which ensure corporations do the right thing and get harmful chemicals out of products.”

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