Love fake leather accessories? They have lethal metal

Updated at: Jun 29, 2015
Love fake leather accessories? They have lethal metal

As much as we love fake leather accessories, they harbour lethal metals such as lead. Using them causes us to ingest such harmful chemicals and fall ill. Here is what you should know about fake leather accessories and how to steer clear of the hea

Ariba Khaliq
Fashion & BeautyWritten by: Ariba KhaliqPublished at: Jun 29, 2015

Women these days are prepared to spend more on a handbag than a vacation or even a car, and they want the rest of the world to know it. But, what if your It-bag could kill you?

Yes, the Center for Environment Health (GEH), in 2013, had found fatal levels of lead in handbags sold at one in every four retail stores visited. Brightly coloured purses made of plastic, vinyl or any other faux leather were the most likely culprits! Feeling cheated? Read on to get clued in.

The CEH had tested 300 purses and found lead in the sides of 43. This amount of lead content was found after hundreds of bag manufacturers signed a court settlement to limit the lead in their products. Lead toxicity can cause heart diseases, cancer and even brain damage.

Fake leather bags

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that adults absorb 11% of the lead they are exposed to, which may end up in their digestive tract. Children on the other hand, absorb between 30 to 75 %. If you inhale lead, up to 50% of gets absorbed by your body.

So, why is lead found in women’s handbags?

It’s because handbags are made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC, a cheap faux leather material. PVC is a known carcinogen since 1966 and can be very dangerous as it is made of large amounts of chlorine with dioxin as a by-product.

Other toxins present are lead, cadmium (a neurotoxin and carcinogen) and organotins (known to suppress endocrine and immune system). Phthalates can also be found in PVC, and are linked to asthma and reproductive issues.

How can you avoid these dangerous toxins?

If you are a fashionista, you wouldn’t want to avoid faux leather bags as suggested by the CEH. Then what are you supposed to do? Well, do the exact thing you do to your food labels—scrutinise them! Double check the labels on your accessories; opt for PU, another leather alternative that doesn’t contain the volatile compounds that are found in PVC-based products. PU leather uses environment-friendly raw material and the final product doesn’t emit toxins.

Many environment-enthusiasts have started using other eco-friendly materials such as organic cottons and canvas to make chic and body-friendly shoes.

How to make sure you’re not buying accessories made with lethal metals?

You carry your purse around all day, opening it, closing it. Every time you touch it, some amount of lead gets on to your finger and reaches your system when you eat something or simply put on a lip balm. You can protect yourself against such exploitation by avoiding brightly coloured purses made of plastic, vinyl or any other type of faux leather.

Harmful chemicals in bags

According to tests, handbags or wallets that are yellow, seem to contain the highest level of lead. Other offenders are red, orange or green hued purses. Lead is a common component of dyes and pigments and that’s why high amounts of it are found in coloured materials.

You should also not be surprised that most tested handbags found to be made of high levels of lethal metals were “made in China.” To be safe, choose accessories made of safe materials such as hemp, cloth, cotton or nylon. Shop smart to protect your health.

Image Source: Getty

Read more articles on Fashion and Style.


All possible measures have been taken to ensure accuracy, reliability, timeliness and authenticity of the information; however does not take any liability for the same. Using any information provided by the website is solely at the viewers’ discretion. In case of any medical exigencies/ persistent health issues, we advise you to seek a qualified medical practitioner before putting to use any advice/tips given by our team or any third party in form of answers/comments on the above mentioned website.

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK