Walmart: Two steps forward, one step back?

By Randi Abrams- Caras, Senior Campaign Director Washington Toxics Coalition

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is used to garnering headlines – some good, some not-so-good. Definitely in the good column was Walmart’s announcement that it would be phasing out 10 toxic chemicals from its cosmetics, personal care products and cleaning products.

While it failed to name those chemicals, Walmart was still universally lauded for this huge step toward “sustainable chemistry.” Indeed, it is a great thing when the world’s largest retailer begins to understand that their customers care about more than low prices.

But amidst the kudos and accolades, Walmart still hasn’t gotten it right when it comes to lead in products. A recent study by the Washington Toxics Coalition found alarmingly high lead content in jewelry distributed by Walmart.

Lead is highly toxic to the developing brain. Adverse effects can include decreased IQ levels, increased ADHD and increased hearing impairment as blood lead levels increase.

WTC found that 8 out of 24 (almost 25%) of Walmart jewelry tested contained levels of lead ranging from 7,748 ppm (parts per million) to 357,790 ppm – over one-third lead. That is 300 times the federal limit of 100ppm for children’s products.

Many of the Walmart jewelry designs purchased for this study appeal to young girls. WTC purchased brightly colored jewelry with designs with sparkly jewels. The products were labeled as “Not intended for children under 14 years of age.” However, there is nothing to prevent a younger child from being able to purchase this jewelry – and younger children are commonly attracted to these types of designs and sparkly jewelry.

Given Walmart’s new commitment to offering healthier, more sustainable products to its customers we urge Walmart to do the following:

1) Immediately remove these lead-containing jewelry products from its stores.

2) Publicly disclose the 10 chemicals being reduced or phased out in personal care products and cleaning products.

3) Commit to a timeline for phasing out Mind the Store’s list ofHazardous 100+ toxic chemicals, which includes lead, from all of its products.

In addition, we call on Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate these products for compliance in accordance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and take appropriate enforcement action.

You can read and download the full report here.

Take action now!