16 businesses targeted in lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Regulators on Tuesday accused over a dozens Los Angeles jewelery firms and suppliers of violating state law by selling merchandise containing dangerous levels of lead and other heavy metals.

KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports the investigation centered on merchants in and around the downtown Jewelery District.

Brian Johnson, Deputy Director of Enforcement for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, said inspections turned up 343 pieces of toxic jewelry — some with lead and cadmium concentrations 1,000 times higher than levels deemed safe for consumers.

The suit charges 16 businesses with violating the state’s “Metal Containing Jewelry” law and accuses them of making untrue or misleading statements, false claims, and engaging in illegal or fraudulent practices — charges that could lead to massive fines or even put the firms out of business altogether.

Johnson said what was more troubling is that adults have no way of determining whether costume jewelry for children was non-toxic.

“So much of the jewelry that we found that was non-compliant actually was labeled as safe, so it’s super-tough for a consumer to make informed and safe choices in that kind of enviroment,” he said.

The majority of the pieces of jewelry were found at Joia Trading Company, which in turn received the product from a series of suppliers who imported it from sources in Korea, or China or Pakistan.

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