ABC News:  “A landmark agreement involving two big retail chains establishes, for the first time, limits on lead in women’s handbags and wallets.  The Center for Environmental Health . . .  bought purses.  The group had the bags tested for lead at an independent lab.  Some bags were wiped to see how much, if any, lead would simply rub off the material.  The bags also were tested for the total lead content of the products.  The tests came back showing disturbingly high levels of lead . . . . “

See a related story in USA Today called “Lead, arsenic found in products from handbags to car seats.”

A consumer watchdog group has found lead, arsenic and other potentially harmful chemicals in an array of everyday products, from handbags to pet supplies to car seats and backpacks.  The Michigan-based Ecology Center tested more than 5,000 products for its new database,, . . . .

The group found lead in 75% of the 100 women’s handbags tested.  Two-thirds of all handbags tested had lead levels above 300 parts per million, the new safety standard for children’s products, says Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center. . . . One purse, an orange handbag from Nine West, had a lead level of 5,718 parts per million, Gearhart says.  The same purse also had 450 parts per million of arsenic

The media loves to scare the public.  Consider the following facts ignored by the fear mongers:

  1. People, including children, do not eat/swallow and digest products like toys and handbags that contain lead.
  2. Bad substances like lead are dangerous only when digested and absorbed by a person’s blood system.
  3. Touching a substance is not the same as ingesting the substance into the human system and digesting it.
  4. The sole U.S. lead standard applies only to children’s products.
  5. The lead standard is no more than 300 parts of lead for every 1,000,000 parts of other substances.
  6. 5,718 parts per million equals 6 parts per 1,000, which is .00572.  This equates to 1 part per every 174 parts.  This means that if you touched 174 “parts” of this particular handbag, you would have a 1 in 174 chance of touching the 1 lead part.  In other words, the chances of touching a lead part rather than the other 173 parts is very slim.
  7. Touching does not equate to “rubbing off.”  The stories never say if touching means rubbing off.  If the lead is embedded within the substance, it does not follow that touching the substance will cause the 1 part out of the 174 parts to depart the handbag and attach itself to the toucher’s hand or other body part.

Note also that the stories never say that anyone, child or adult, has ever actually gotten sick or had health problems from touching a toy or handbag with high levels of lead.  I submit that the lack of actual stories about actual harm from these so called “dangerous lead containing products” just do not exist.