Thursday, March 13, 2008

State's Health Department Bans Jewelry With Lead & Establishes New Regulations

Massachusetts Department of Health press release issued yesterday:
In an effort to protect children’s health, the Department of Public Health announced new regulations banning the manufacture, transport or sale of children’s jewelry containing dangerous levels of lead. Under the new regulation, the sale of children’s leaded jewelry would be banned in all venues in Massachusetts, including Internet and catalogue sales.
The regulations were approved at the monthly meeting of the Public Health Council the body that approves public health regulations in Massachusetts. The regulations will go into effect in June 2008 to give industry time to come into compliance and to allow for a 30-day comment period on a guidance document outlining laboratory testing methods and compliance requirements.
“Because high levels of lead in toy jewelry can present long-term health consequences for children, we think this new regulation will go a long to way to protect the health of children in the Commonwealth,” said Health Commissioner John Auerbach.
Over the past three years, the Department collected and tested jewelry samples from vending machines, children’s toy sections of retail stores, and jewelry counters in stores across the Commonwealth. Although the percent of children’s jewelry samples containing lead has decreased from samples collected in 2004, more than one in 10 samples collected in 2007 had sufficiently high lead levels that present serious health concerns to young children.
The Council expressed strong support for the regulations, which were first proposed last September. The Council approval comes following two public hearings that were held in Framingham and Boston in November 2007.
“Despite numerous voluntary recalls of these products issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission over the past few years, children’s jewelry sold in Massachusetts continues to have dangerous levels of lead,” said Suzanne Condon, Director, Bureau of Environmental Health.
The Lead Poisoning Prevention Program’s primary objective is to protect children from residential lead paint exposure through education, outreach and remediation of lead hazards.
Massachusetts law requires that every child be screened for lead at ages one, two and three and again at age four if they live in one of 14 communities determined to be a high-risk community for lead poisoning. The Massachusetts Lead Law bans toys, eating or drinking utensils with a coating of paint, enamel or glaze with a lead content of 600 ppm (parts per million) or greater, but the law does not apply to lead in metallic form.

The new regulations will define children’s leaded jewelry as:
* jewelry marketed to or intended for use by children under 14 years of age,
* jewelry that contains a concentration of lead that either is more than 600 ppm total lead content as determined by the U.S. screening test for total lead analysis or similar methods subject to the approval of DPH, or
* jewelry that would expose a child to greater than 15 ug (micrograms) of lead per day over a chronic exposure period.

The regulation will apply to:
* Children’s leaded jewelry manufactured, shipped or sold at retail or wholesale, indoors or outdoors, over the Internet or through catalogs. This includes, but is not limited to,
* jewelry sold in vending machines, toy stores or toy displays, toy departments or toy sections, or
* jewelry that may use images or otherwise be designed or packaged to be especially attractive to children.

Enforcement plan:
* Spot checks will be conducted across the state to ensure compliance.
* Violators will be subject to the penalties described in M.G.L. Chapter 94B: Hazardous Substances, including up to $5,000 fine or imprisonment and a product embargo.

Future plan:
Later this year, The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will explore developing additional regulations to protect children from lead found in other products besides jewelry.
Discussion groups will be held for both industry and advocacy groups to determine the products that pose the greatest public health threat to children.

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