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Retailers to limit lead in handbags, accessories

OAKLAND, Calif. —More than 40 major retailers and apparel makers have agreed to limit the use of lead in handbags and other fashion accessories, an environmental group said Wednesday.

The companies will set new industry standards for lead use in their products as part of a $1.7 million legal settlement filed Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court.

The agreement settles a lawsuit filed against the companies last year by the Center for Environmental Health.

The environmental advocacy group found high levels of lead when it tested dozens of vinyl and faux leather women's handbags, purses and wallets it bought at major retail outlets in the San Francisco Bay area.

Michael Green, the center's executive director, said he hopes other companies that make, import or sell fashion accessories will follow the health standards spelled out in the legal agreement.

The settlement means "millions of women no longer need to fear that their purse may pose a threat to their health or the health of their children," Green said.

The retailers that signed the settlement include Macy's, Target, Kohl's, JC Penney, Guess, Sears, Kmart, Saks and Victoria's Secret.

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