Wal-Mart, Sears, Target, Macy's and other major U.S. retailers are agreeing to follow standards expected to lower the level of lead -- a poisonous metal with potentially widespread toxic health effects -- in handbags and other fashion accessories.
How does lead get into fashion goods in the first place? From vinyl and other "faux" leather materials, or from pigments used to color products, says California's Center for Environmental Health, the advocacy group that filed and settled the lawsuit including the new standards. Many of the 41 retailers named in the suit, in which none admit to any wrongdoing, agreed to apply the standards to belts and footwear as well.
"We expect that every company that makes, imports, distributes or sells purses and other accessories will join these leading companies in meeting these health standards for their consumers," the center's executive director, Michael Green, said in a statement.