The presence of Lead in jewellery and accessories is an increasing matter for concern due to the harmful effects that Lead can have, particularly on children. Many suppliers are testing for Lead as part of their “due diligence” and Lead will certainly be included in the final REACH regulations. The current situation and the latest EU proposal are set out below.
The Birmingham Assay Office welcomes the restriction of all toxic substances from situations where they could be detrimental to the health of the consumer. It supports the recommendation to limit lead by measurement of content as this will provide a more accurate, reliable and repeatable control. There are currently three different content levels recommended and these need to be resolved.
Interested parties have until 28th May 2011 to make their comments at
CURRENT SITUATION IN EUROPE:
There is currently no specific EU legislation for lead in jewellery. One European Member State, Denmark, has national legislation in place for lead content. The restriction is laid down in Denmark Statutory Order No. 1082 of 2007.
In the absence of such legislation, the EN71-3 Toy Safety standard is frequently used in the EU to assess toxic metals including lead in products, particularly those intended for children. The test standard BS EN 71-3:1995 – Safety of toys (Part 3: Migration of certain elements) specifies the requirements and test methods for migration of various toxic elements (including lead) from toys. The Migration rate is defined as the amount of lead which is released from the article when it is submerged in artificial stomach acid. This is intended to simulate sucking and swallowing of jewellery.
The maximum migration level accepted for Lead is 90 mg/Kg (equivalent to 0.009%, or 90ppm leachable lead). However, there have been recent moves to include specific levels for lead under the new REACH regulations and the UK supply chain for fine jewellery and fashion accessories should be aware of these developments.
PROPOSED CHANGES IN EUROPE
Recently France produced a proposal (a so called Annex XV report) to restrict lead and its compounds in jewellery under the REACH Regulation. The initial draft proposed that; ‘Jewellery which has a lead migration rate greater than 0.09 micrograms per square centimetre per hour (µg/cm²/hr)’ would be prohibited from being produced and/or placed on the EU market. It was recommended that the proposed restriction would apply to all precious and fashion jewellery, whether it was intended for adults or children.
The lead migration limit would be considered for each individual part of the jewellery and would be measured using the method from BS EN 71-3:1995 as referred to above.
The proposal was open for public consultation from 21.06.2010 until 21.12 2010. The response included much opposition to the suggested limit of 0.09µg/cm²/hr as it would involve calculating the surface area of an item of jewellery to give the migration rate – this can be a complicated and inaccurate process.
Having considered the response to the consultation, and the opinion of the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC), the Committee for Socio Economic Analysis (SEAC) adopted a draft opinion and proposed restriction on Lead and its compounds in jewellery which proposes new restrictions as follows:
The new legislation should be based on the content of lead in jewellery rather than the migration rate.
“Lead .... And its compounds shall not be used in jewellery articles if the lead concentration is equal to or greater than 0.05% (500ppm) by weight of any part of the jewellery article”
The products covered have been amended to be the same as those proposed for cadmium restrictions (which are also currently being reviewed);
“Jewellery and imitation jewellery articles and hair accessories , including bracelets, necklaces and rings, piercing jewellery, wrist-watches and wrist wear, brooches and cufflinks”.
This covers both precious and fashion jewellery, intended for use by adults as well as children.
Other articles (such as key rings, coins etc) that may also be mouthed and accidentally swallowed by children are not covered by this legislation.
Non-metallic parts are included - lead is commonly found in plastics, varnishes, paints, enamels and lacquers.
Precious metals - are not expected to contain lead and its compounds. These metals have not been formally exempted from the restrictions but can be dealt with by Declarations of Conformity and periodic due diligence testing rather than by regular bulk testing.
Precious metal jewellery will be restricted with regard to cadmium as soon as the Annex XVII entry enters into force (in 2012). No further additional ‘due diligence’ costs will be incurred as lead and cadmium can be tested simultaneously in solution by ICP-OES method.
Crystals, precious and semi-precious stones - are not included in the restriction, by way of derogation, as the lead in these stones is unlikely to migrate from the stones and cause any harm. However, if the stones are treated with lead or its compounds they will need to comply.
The first public consultation on the restrictions on the use of lead and its compounds in jewellery ended on 21st Dec 2010.
The draft opinion from SEAC was made available for further public comment on 21st March 2011 and comments can be made until 28th May 2011 at
A final opinion on the 2nd proposed restriction is expected by 21st June 2011.
These restrictions will then need to be formally adopted (into Annex XVII of REACH) and products are expected to need to comply 12-18 months after the restrictions have been formally adopted. The formal adoption is expected in September 2011 and products are expected to need to comply by September 2012 - March 2013.
Testing of the content of lead in jewellery can be measured by an X- Ray Fluorescence test procedure.
In order to verify a non-compliant content value, a ‘wet test’ can be performed. Please note the XRF test method is cheaper and easier but it has its own limitations, it has limited penetration and only allows an analysis of the surface layer of the jewellery articles, as well as having limited resolution. The more sensitive tests (e.g. ICP-OES) would be required in certain circumstances, especially where legal confirmation of screening tests is required.
CANADA and USA already have national legislation in place imposing specific restrictions on lead in children’s jewellery.
CANADA (Children’s Jewellery Regulations)
Canadian Regulations restrict both the content and migration rate for lead. The limits are 600mg/Kg (equivalent to 0.06%, or 600ppm) total lead and 90 mg/Kg (0.009%, 90ppm) leachable lead. The Canadian Regulations encompass both the US Children’s jewellery regulations and the European Safety of Toys Regulations.
USA (Children’s Jewellery Regulations)
The USA Children’s Jewellery Regulations (Ref. CPSC Section 101) restrict the lead content – Children’s jewellery must not contain more than 0.03% (300ppm) lead. The limit goes down to 100ppm from August 14, if this proves feasible. The lead in paint limit is 90ppm (ppm = mg/kg)
LEAD RESTRICTIONS IN JEWELLERY IN CALIFORNIA
California’s Metal-Containing Jewellery prohibits the manufacture, shipping, or sale of jewellery, or offering the jewellery for promotional purposes in California, unless the jewellery meets the restrictions set forth in the law. A brief summary of those restrictions are as follows:
Remarks: These criteria are those detailed in California’s Metal-Containing Jewellery law and are based upon current information available.
Make your comments on the proposal before 28th May 2011 at
The laboratory at The Birmingham Assay OfficePO Box 151, Newhall Street,
Birmingham B3 1SB
Tel: 0871 871 6020 Fax: 0121 236 9487
Email: [email protected]