A groundbreaking new investigation by a consumer watchdog group is raising the question: Is there a hidden danger in purses, an accessory that millions of Americans never leave home without?
The Center for Environmental Health found lead in handbags sold at one out of four retail stores it visited.
The consumer group said that it discovered lead in the sides of 43 of the 300 purses it tested in a lab, even though hundreds of handbag manufacturers signed a court settlement to limit the lead in their products.
The five purses that contained the most lead were made by Tory Burch, Guess, House of Harlow, Nine West and Charlotte Russe.
Click here to see whether you own a purse from one of the manufacturers.
The group said its concern was that lead can rub off products such as purses and get into the body of a woman or her children.
“Lead is stunningly toxic,” said Michael Green, the group’s executive director. “We find it really distressing that some of these companies had this problem.”
The lab results showed the Tory Burch purse contained nearly 200 times more lead than the limit permitted by the legal agreement with the Center for Environmental Health.
“This is one of the highest levels of lead we have ever found in a consumer product,” Green said.
Tory Burch, whose firm was on the list, told ABC News that she was appalled at the findings.
“We have strict testing protocols,” she said. “[We] are doing a full investigation.”
Nine West said that it had “pulled the product in question from all stores.”
Guess chose not to comment. House of Harlow and Charlotte Russe had not responded by airtime.
The Center for Environmental Health said brightly colored purses made of plastic or vinyl were the most likely to contain lead. It suggested purchasing leather or fabric goods to have a better chance that all you’re carrying is your purse.