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Downtown LA stores accused of selling lead-tainted jewelry

By Hayley Fox
Published: Wednesday, August 01, 2012, at 01:02PM
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Joia was one of the main jewelry warehouses cited.

California officials filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against 16 downtown L.A. business for selling jewelry that contained high levels of lead -- which can be toxic, especially for young children who tend to bite or suck on the items.

The state Attorney General’s Office has accused these DTLA stores of selling the tainted products directly to customers, or supplying other retail stores with the items. A total of 343 contaminated pieces were found, most of them at Joia Trading, Inc. on Crocker Street.

“California has had laws on the books since 2006 restricting the lead content in jewelry, yet we continue to see widespread violations of these safeguards,” said Brian Johnson, Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Deputy Director of Enforcement.

Exposure to lead can cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, organ failure and even death, according to the DTSC. Some jewelry pieces were also discovered to contain high levels of cadmium, a carcinogen that if ingested can lead to kidney damage and bone loss.

“Six years after our legal work helped set the state standard banning lead in jewelry, it's disappointing to see that wholesalers who supply jewelry stores across California are still selling so many lead and cadmium-tainted items,” said Michael Green, Center for Environmental Health (CEH) executive director, in a statement.

Between November 2009 to May 2012, officials went to stores and warehouses looking for tainted jewelry and any preliminary findings were then sent to a lab for further analysis, according to the DTSC. Some of the items discovered turned out to exceed the legal limit of metals by as much as 1,000 times what is permitted.

Although certain levels of lead can be toxic, it is sometimes used in jewelry manufacturing because it can make it feel more substantial, as well as making metal easier to bend. Lead may also be used in glass and crystal to give the items more sparkle.

Lead can be absorbed through the skin but this exposure is not highly dangerous -- it's when kids put tainted jewelry in their mouth that risk factors increase.

Failing to comply with jewelry laws can result in fines of up to $2,500 per violation.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the total list of defendants in the lawsuit are as follows: Joia Trading Inc.; Alljoy Supply; Adore Accessories Inc.; Ana Trading Co.; Ann Kim Fashion Accessory; Asian Trading Inc.; DA Big Inc.; Eastern Nationwide Inc.; EFM Group Inc.; Jove Imports Inc.; Luxy Accessories Inc.; Miju International; New Rising Sun Inc.; Sam's Accessories Inc.; RJ Imports; and S.G. Imports Inc.


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