Jewelry importer settles in Vermont after high levels of lead found

Nick Rees Dec. 23, 2008, 5:16pm

Bill Sorrell (D)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) -- High amounts of lead in imported jewelry and other metal products from a Canadian consumer gift distributor have resulted in a $215,000 settlement in Vermont.

Ganz U.S.A., LLC, the importer, has also agreed to comply with strict limits on the amount of lead allowed in consumer product in what Attorney General Bill Sorrell is calling an important step toward ensuring children's product safety.

Ganz must pay $75,000 to the state to buy wipe test kits, which can be used by homeowners and tenants to test for lead in residential paint. Another $10,000 of the settlement will go to purchase consumer products to be tested for toxic substances and dangerous defects, and civil penalties and costs make up the remaining $130,000 of the settlement total.

Ganz did not disclose the presence of lead in its products, something the attorney general alleged to be an unfair and deceptive trade practice under the state's Consumer Fraud Act.

Effective as of February 2009, federal and state laws will allow a maximum of 600 parts per million of lead in children's products. The jewelry, charms, ornaments and other metal products Ganz imported to Vermont in 2007, however, contained 8,339 to 435,736 parts per million lead. Ganz removed the metal products from the Vermont retail stores that had purchased them.

Under terms of the settlement Ganz will limit the amount of lead in their consumer products to 200 part per million for small metal products, 600 parts per million for any other metal products, which must be phased down to 200 parts per million by August 2009, 90 parts per million for paint and other surface coatings.

Ganz is also required to test samples of its products for lead and to report to the attorney general's office if excessive lead levels are found. Ganz must also provide updates on its regulatory compliance program and offer refunds to Vermont consumers who purchased Ganz products.

More News