Love fake leather accessories? They have lethal metal

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 29, 2015

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Quick Bites

  • The CEH found lead in the sides of 43 of 300 purses it had tested in a lab.
  • These highly-toxic handbags can transfer lead onto a woman’s hand.
  • The Center for Environmental Health recommends avoiding brightly colored purses.
  • Handbags that are yellow or have a yellow-tint seem to have the highest levels of lead.

Women these days are prepared to spend more on a handbag than a vacation or even a car, and they want the rest of the world to know it. But, what if your It-bag could kill you?

Yes, the Center for Environment Health (GEH), in 2013, had found fatal levels of lead in handbags sold at one in every four retail stores visited. Brightly coloured purses made of plastic, vinyl or any other faux leather were the most likely culprits! Feeling cheated? Read on to get clued in.

The CEH had tested 300 purses and found lead in the sides of 43. This amount of lead content was found after hundreds of bag manufacturers signed a court settlement to limit the lead in their products. Lead toxicity can cause heart diseases, cancer and even brain damage.

Fake leather bags

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that adults absorb 11% of the lead they are exposed to, which may end up in their digestive tract. Children on the other hand, absorb between 30 to 75 %. If you inhale lead, up to 50% of gets absorbed by your body.

So, why is lead found in women’s handbags?

It’s because handbags are made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC, a cheap faux leather material. PVC is a known carcinogen since 1966 and can be very dangerous as it is made of large amounts of chlorine with dioxin as a by-product.

Other toxins present are lead, cadmium (a neurotoxin and carcinogen) and organotins (known to suppress endocrine and immune system). Phthalates can also be found in PVC, and are linked to asthma and reproductive issues.

How can you avoid these dangerous toxins?

If you are a fashionista, you wouldn’t want to avoid faux leather bags as suggested by the CEH. Then what are you supposed to do? Well, do the exact thing you do to your food labels—scrutinise them! Double check the labels on your accessories; opt for PU, another leather alternative that doesn’t contain the volatile compounds that are found in PVC-based products. PU leather uses environment-friendly raw material and the final product doesn’t emit toxins.

Many environment-enthusiasts have started using other eco-friendly materials such as organic cottons and canvas to make chic and body-friendly shoes.

How to make sure you’re not buying accessories made with lethal metals?

You carry your purse around all day, opening it, closing it. Every time you touch it, some amount of lead gets on to your finger and reaches your system when you eat something or simply put on a lip balm. You can protect yourself against such exploitation by avoiding brightly coloured purses made of plastic, vinyl or any other type of faux leather.

Harmful chemicals in bags

According to tests, handbags or wallets that are yellow, seem to contain the highest level of lead. Other offenders are red, orange or green hued purses. Lead is a common component of dyes and pigments and that’s why high amounts of it are found in coloured materials.

You should also not be surprised that most tested handbags found to be made of high levels of lethal metals were “made in China.” To be safe, choose accessories made of safe materials such as hemp, cloth, cotton or nylon. Shop smart to protect your health.

Image Source: Getty

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