Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says Amazon has committed to nationwide corporate reforms after the investigation led by his office found dozens of children's school supplies sold on Amazon had illegal levels of toxic metals lead and cadmium.
The office of the Washington state AG says children's school supplies and jewelry found to exceed the legal limits of these toxic metals include pencil pouches, backpacks, lunchboxes, book covers, plus bracelets and necklaces designed for kids.
"Amazon also performed its own tests on several products and confirmed that the levels were higher than those allowed by state and federal laws," says the AG's office.
Amazon has agreed to pay the Attorney General's Office $700,000, which will be used to fund future environmental protection efforts, including future investigations into toxic children's products.
"As a parent, when I buy products for my kids, I expect them to be safe," said Ferguson. "All retailers must ensure that their products do not pose a threat to Washington children. If they don't, they will hear from my office."
Ferguson's investigation revealed that individuals in Washington and across the country made at least 15,188 purchases of products with illegal levels of lead and cadmium from Amazon.com. When it learned of the results of the investigation, Amazon contacted the purchasers in early 2019 encouraging the disposal of the toxic items and provided more than $200,000 in refunds. To resolve the investigation without a lawsuit, Amazon entered into a nationwide legally binding agreement to block the sale of children's schools supplies and jewelry on Amazon.com without lab reports and other proof from the sellers that the products are not toxic. (…)
Both state and federal laws prohibit the sale or distribution of children's products that contain lead or cadmium above certain levels. Lead can cause a variety of neurological problems in children, and in large amounts, can lead to organ failure and death. The federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act prohibits levels of lead exceeding 100 parts-per-million (ppm) in any accessible component of a children's product. Under state law, levels of cadmium, a metal known to cause cancer, cannot exceed 40 ppm.
The Attorney General's Office, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Ecology, tested children's school supplies for harmful levels of lead and cadmium in 2017 and 2018. The tests targeted products the two agencies suspected might contain toxic metals. In total, two rounds of tests identified 51 products sold on Amazon.com that tested positive for illegal levels of lead and cadmium. In the first round of testing, 16 of the 43 products from Amazon tested positive for illegal levels of toxic metals. In the second round of tests, the two agencies found that 35 of 41 products examined exceed the legal limits. The Department of Ecology paid for the first round of testing and the Attorney General's Office funded the second round.
These items featured cartoon characters, plush exteriors and bright primary colors and were marketed to children younger than 12. In particular, some sellers' pencil pouches had component parts containing approximately 8,500 ppm of lead — more than 80 times the legal limit. In one test, a pencil pouch contained more than 35 times the legal limit of lead and nearly 29 times the legal limit of cadmium.
READ MORE: AG FERGUSON: AMAZON MUST REMOVE TOXIC SCHOOL SUPPLIES, KID'S JEWELRY FROM MARKETPLACE NATIONWIDE [atg.wa.gov]