Hold the Rhinestones - Your Holiday Bling Could Be Toxic

A new report claims that the shiniest of accessories may be the most hazardous to your health

Now here’s some cheerful news just two days before Christmas — the shimmering beaded pocketbook and multi-colored sparkly pumps you’re hoping Santa leaves under the tree for you this year (or at least will go on sale later this week) may actually cause you harm.

Talk about taking the bling out of your holiday.

According to a piece in The New York Times, these types of vividly colored accessories may contain high levels of lead. And experts are concerned because not only may the lead slowly seep into our systems from everyday wear, but the particles from these fashionable extras may also sprinkle onto your plate of food and into your glass of Prosecco.

The article states that lead, “even at very low levels, has been linked to nervous system damage, cardiovascular problems, kidney failure and many other health problems.” It’s also a concern for women of child-bearing years (since lead can be released through the bones during pregnancy) and factory workers who are continuously exposed to these potentially toxic products.

The writer also quotes David Rosner, co-director of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia University and author of the book Lead Wars, who summed it up real simply: “There is no good level for lead exposure.”

There is a sparkling silver line, though — for the last three years, the Center for Environmental Health has been testing lead levels in accessories, and the majority of retailers have been lowering their lead intake and meeting the approved standards (300 parts per million of lead in leather goods and 200 parts per million in vinyl products).

The retailers who received a big thumbs up (complete with a chunky ring): Target, H&M, Guess and J. Crew. However, the retailers who did not meet the appropriate standards, specifically in their purses, belts and shoes: Wet Seal, Charlotte Russe and Forever 21.

The take-home lesson — for those of us who like to walk with a little dazzle in their step, it sounds like we need to a pay few extra dollars to be safe and sparkly.

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