Accessible and total lead in low-cost jewelry items


  • Published on the Web 4/4/2008.


The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has proposed a ban on children's metal jewelry containing more than 0.06% lead by weight. This ban would replace the current interim enforcement standard, which also includes a measurement of accessible lead. Under current guidelines, accessible lead for any component of a jewelry item must not exceed 175 μg. Critics argue that lead in jewelry is inaccessible if items are properly plated. The objective of this study was to determine whether highly leaded jewelry also has high accessible lead content. Sixty-four inexpensive, leaded jewelry items with a wide range of total lead content (all above the 0.06% threshold) were tested first for accessible lead and then for total lead, with analysis by atomic absorption spectrometry. Fifty of the items exceeded the 175-μg maximum allowed for accessible lead. Thirty-one of these items exceeded 1000 μg accessible lead, and 18 items exceeded 3000 μg accessible lead. The finding that a majority of tested items had both accessible and total lead content above current standards provides support for the rationale of simplifying the current standard by basing regulations on total lead content.