In the final week of 2019, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Assembly Bill A6041 (S4046) to regulate children’s jewelry that contains specified levels of lead. The new law, which will take effect January 1, 2021 (without a “manufactured by” or sell-through date), prohibits the offer for sale or sale in the state of children’s jewelry with lead content greater than 0.004% (40 parts per million [ppm]) but less than 0.01% (100 ppm)* unless it contains a label with the warning language listed below
The bill’s text argues that “stringent controls on the amount of lead in jewelry are necessary to protect public health, especially the health of children.” And, according to the bill’s text, “random samples of jewelry in New York state have been found to contain up to 60,000 ppm of lead,” or 100 times the federal standard.
How to comply with the law
The law applies only to accessible component parts of jewelry for children under 12 years of age.
The warning label can either be placed on the jewelry itself or on its immediate packaging, and must, at a minimum, contain the following language:
WARNING: CONTAINS LEAD. MAY BE HARMFUL IF EATEN OR CHEWED. COMPLIES WITH FEDERAL STANDARDS
According to the definitions in the new law, jewelry means any of the following ornaments worn by a person:
- An ankle bracelet, arm cuff, bracelet, brooch, chain, crown, cuff link, hair accessory, earring, necklace, decorative pin, ring, body piercing jewelry, jewelry placed in the mouth for display or ornament
- A charm, bead, chain, link, pendant, or other component in point 1 above
- A charm, bead, chain, link, pendant, or other attachment to shoes or clothing that can be removed and may be used as a component of an ornament in point 1 above
- A watch in which a timepiece is a component of an ornament in point 1 above, excluding the timepiece itself if the timepiece can be removed from the ornament
Violations of any of the law’s provisions will result in a civil penalty of up to $500 for the first violation and up to $2,500 for any subsequent violation.
Isn’t this the Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act?
The requirements of the New York law may sound familiar to many of you, as it effectively is the same as the Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, which has been in effect in Illinois for nearly ten years. It remains to be seen whether New York will aggressively enforce this law—we are aware of virtually no enforcement of its Illinois counterpart, whether because Illinois has not prioritized it or because with the lead certification standards under CPSIA, there is very little lead-containing children’s jewelry left in the market. And of course, there remains a very significant question as to whether these children’s jewelry warning laws are subject to federal preemption, although to date, we are not aware of anyone challenging the Illinois statute.
*The bill technically states the warning is required for children’s jewelry with lead content up to 600 ppm, but children’s jewelry containing more than 100 ppm lead would violate the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)).