#LongchampLePilage #Longchamp Advertising image for this bag, as seen on the linked Glamor article below (from Nordstrom).Photos below are of the exact bag tested. Photos taken by me.
Tamara Rubin is an independent advocate for consumer goods safety and she is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. She began testing consumer goods for toxicants in 2009 and was the parent-advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017. She uses XRF testing (a scientific method used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for contaminants including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Arsenic.
Sunday – November 29, 2020
XRF toxicant test results of Longchamp Le Pilage handbag
So, let me start by saying that I must live under a rock. I do LOVE fashion. One of my favorite downtime things to do (when I just need to unwind) is look at all of the amazing outfits the celebrities are wearing for the award shows. I actually know a lot of the designers just by looking at their pieces too (I used to do off-broadway costume designs and building in college – back in 1987 – as a work study program to help pay my tuition!) But I guess I don’t know purses… like AT ALL…. It’s a whole world I have yet to fully explore.
There are several purse posts here on the blog actually…
- Here’s my overview post which currently has 10 related links.
- Here’s all of the Louis Vuitton purses on the blog – there are currently four posts up in this category.
- Here’s another Longchamp purse too (this one is positive for Lead and Mercury actually)
The Longchamp Le Pilage bag pictured below.
Anyway, when my reader / client recently brought me a Longchamp Le Pilage purse to test – and when she told me she wanted to have it tested because I had another (different style) piece from that brand here on the blog that was positive for toxic heavy metals I was like…*shrug* – I do? I guess I do! I only vaguely recalled that post from a very long time ago…. I had absolutely no idea that it was a popular brand at all. [Link to that post here.]
And then we tested her bag. The leather shoulder straps and closure tested positive for unsafe levels of Lead when tested with an XRF instrument. I wasn’t surprised by this – a lot of the higher end / popular bags have tested positive for toxicants. They are not regulated at all (because they are not intended to be items for use by children) so I haven’t ever found this too remarkable… but THEN my client / friend/ reader told me that this is a bag made popular by Kate Middleton of all people! And that over 30,000,000 of these bags have been sold over the years… so I decided I should probably write about this to let you all know about these findings as quickly as I could. Here’s the article from Glamour magazine (gushing about how wonderful the bag is and how Kate Middleton was responsible for the surge in sales.)
Details for the particular bag I tested… (pictured both above and below on this blog post)…
I can tell you the following things that I know about the bag tested. It is owned by a woman who KNOWS her purses (I tested something like 30 purses for her – and I think that is a low estimation!) She also knows her brands and does her research when buying anything for herself and her family. As a result she owns many non-toxic and American made purses. She had quite a range of purses in her collection (in terms of prices, sizes, styles and functions.) Given who she is (and the range of her collection – and intention she puts into her purchases) I am certain (beyond any doubt) that this is an AUTHENTIC Longchamp Le Pilage bag (not a counterfeit or copy of any kind.) I am therefore CERTAIN that other examples of this bag will also likely test positive for unsafe levels of Lead in the leather straps and accents. The owner of the bag told me that she purchased this bag c. 2005. So this is a FAIRLY RECENT bag – not a new bag, not an old bag, not an antique bag, not a vintage bag (yet.)
When tested with an XRF instrument the bag pictured here had the following readings:
- Lead (Pb): 1,141 +/- 55 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 86,900 +/- 2,400 ppm
- Silver (Ag): 17 +/- 5 ppm
What this means for YOU (if you own one of these bags):
- BLACK AND BROWN: Because I have only tested ONE of these bags (in this style and exact color scheme) I cannot extrapolate to a range of the bags from this brand that might test positive for Lead (and potentially other toxicants.) For example I cannot tell you if the other color schemes are likely positive for Lead or if it is just a problem limited to the brown leather handles of the specific style of Longchamp Le Pilage bag tested.
- MOST POPULAR BAG: I do find these test results somewhat alarming though – as I understand that this particular color scheme (the black nylon bag with the brown leather handles) is, in fact, the most popular style of this bag (it is also the exact bag color-scheme and style used by Kate Middleton and other celebrity style influencers.)
- 2005 BAG: Because I have only tested this one bag (in this style and color scheme from this brand) from (c.) 2005 I cannot reasonably speculate if newer bags from this brand and of this style (Le Pilage bags made more recently) might be negative for Lead, but I can easily extrapolate (based on more than a decade of testing literally tens of thousands of consumer goods and the knowledge of products and insight in to manufacturing practices that has given me) that pre-2005 bags from this brand that have this same color scheme might likely also test positive for unsafe levels of Lead in the brown leather components.
- LEATHER: Leather is (unfortunately) often tanned using Leaded colorants) along with much larger quantities of Chromium. I am never surprised to find high-Lead leather (even in new products) because it is still commonly used (I even tested a brand new 2019/2020 designer-made leather pillow this year that was positive for more than 4,000 ppm Lead!) So one COULD easily make an educated guess that it IS POSSIBLE that the newer bags in this color scheme might also test positive for LEAD and it might be reasonable to extrapolate that LEATHER COMPONENTS of this bag in OTHER COLORS of this style of bag from this particular company might also test positive for Lead (from 2005 and possibly from other years.) BUT please understand that the amount of Lead in Leather often varies by color – so it is also possible that other colors of Leather bags from this brand might be negative for Lead. There is no way to know for sure without additional testing.
- TEST RESULTS: The test results for the testing I do (and report here on this blog) are SCIENCE-BASED and REPLICABLE. The testing on the bag pictured was also repeated MULTIPLE TIMES to confirm that the results found were repeatable and accurate. As a result there is NO QUESTION that this bag (in this style, and from the year 2005) DOES have unsafe levels of Lead.
- MORE TESTING IS NEEDED: I will look for opportunities to test other versions of this bag (in different colors and made in different years) to try to determine the range (of colors, styles and ages) that are a potential Lead concern. If you want to send me your similar bag from this brand and can share with me a receipt confirming the date of purchase – I will test it for free so that I can write a blog post about it and have more data points for this conversation.
- ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION: In the meantime – out of an abundance of caution, please do not let your children interact with these bags and perhaps set them aside until further testing can be done. Please consider buying an alternate bag to use until we know more. You can read more about the specifics of the Lead concern below.
How much Lead is too much Lead?
…including some “Fun Facts”:
- Newly-manufactured items (made today) are considered unsafe for children to use if they are finished with any paint or coating that is 90 ppm Lead or higher. (Again – the leather components of this hand bag tested positive for more than 1,000 ppm Lead – quite unsafe for children.) Dye on leather is usually considered a coating.
- Substrates that test positive for 100 ppm Lead (or higher) are considered unsafe for children. The underlying leather of the purse is likely negative for Lead. The leather would be considered the substrate.
- There is currently no regulatory standard setting limits for Lead in paint on modern consumer goods intended for use by adults (this includes handbags and any other items not specifically marked as being intended for use by children.)
- When Lead-based paint was banned in 1978, the requirement was that paint for residential use applications only (paint for houses, applied in areas that could be reached by children) must henceforth contain less than 600 ppm Lead. For context about how toxic this is, the leather components of this Longchamp Le Pilage bag also tested higher than this 1978 limit.
- The allowable level of Lead in house paint was subsequently lowered, and today modern house paint must also be below 90 ppm Lead [and most house paints now usually test completely negativefor Lead].
- Because this is a PURSE, and because PURSES are not intended for use by kids – it is considered perfectly legal and safe for it to have this level of Lead in the leather components (or metal components – or anywhere it may be found.)
- It takes a microscopic amount of Lead to poison a human being.
- All federal agencies agree that there is no safe level of Lead exposure.
- Most important: Children OFTEN play with their mother’s purses. Children OFTEN chew or suck on the straps of their mother’s handbags when they are being carried on their mother’s hip or in a backpack or sling. It is for this reason I consider this bag to have unsafe levels of Lead. It is a potential danger to children (regardless of whether or not is potentially dangerous to the women who own the bag and might hold it and carry it daily – without washing their hands each time after touching the handles.)
Do you want to help make a difference here?
I see a terrific opportunity here, for the cause of childhood Lead poisoning prevention and for our efforts to get Lead removed from all products that might be interacted with by children. Celebrity awareness of concerns like the one raised here OFTEN generates quick corporate responses (like public statements, recalls and changes in manufacturing / changes in materials sourcing – including the potential for removal of Lead from their tanning process.) It would be AMAZING if we could get Kate Middleton’s eyes on this (or her sister-in-law’s OR any other celebrity known to use this exact bag.)
Please message her on instagram, email her at the palace or contact her through other channels – anything else you can think of to help bring attention to this issue. As a mother of three young children I am CERTAIN Kate Middleton (the future Queen of England!) would be pissed to learn that one of her favorite bags (from a brand she obviously appreciates and trusts – and probably often carries over her shoulder while also carrying a young child) may be contaminated with unsafe levels of Lead. Thanks for your help with this. If you do try to reach Kate about this concern, please post comments below (here in the comments section on this blog post) if you find ways to contact Kate – so that other readers can use the same channels. Then all we can do is wait and see what happens!
What should I do to make sure I have a safer purse?
Here are my top tips for choosing a safer purse or diaper bag:
- Choose a plain undecorated canvas bag that can easily be washed in your home washing machine. [Non-washable purses are often contaminated by Lead dust from your house and car-keys rubbing together!] To read more about Lead in keys, click this link.
- If you must have a purse with a zipper and pockets and other bells and whistles, Target seems to have a lot of good toxicant-free low-cost choices for purses. [Sorry I don’t have specific recommendations there.] I once (several years ago) went to a fancy event with a bunch of celebrities in Chicago and ended up testing the purses (and shoes) of many of the ladies there – since that was all they had with them. At least one of these celebrities had a large handbag from Target and it was the only bag at the event that tested completely negative for toxicants.
- I recently tested a bunch of purses (for this same client / friend/ reader – the owner of the Longchamp bag pictured here) from the brand “MZ Wallace”. Unlike Longchamp, each of the examples I tested from MZ Wallace was negative for Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Arsenic. The image below is one of the several bags from MZ Wallace that I tested- but they have many different sizes, styles and colors to choose from.
Here’s an MZ Wallace bag similar in style (and similar in volume too I think) to the Longchamp Le Pilage bag (click the image to see the bag on Amazon).
Special Note about Zippers:
Bags (and other consumer goods) that may test negative for most toxicants across the board (specifically negative for Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Arsenic) tend to still test positive for trace levels of Antimony (usually in the range of 75 to 150 ppm) in the zippers. I believe there is likely a common thread (literally a common thread – used by all zipper manufacturers) holding the zippers on to the backing fabric “tape” of the zippers – that is the specific component that is testing positive for Antimony. I need to do more research on this; I specifically need to get some random new zippers (from different brands and vendors) and “dissect” them (testing each component of the zipper separately) to better understand these findings. In general however I don’t have a concern for low levels of Antimony found in zippers – especially since I cannot seem to find any totally Antimony-free new zippers (on any products with zippers.) Best advice there: don’t let your children chew on zippers (again, out of an abundance of caution.)
As always, please let me know if you have any questions. I will do my best to answer them in person BUT with the pandemic (and the resultant lack of childcare since March – and also the recent uptick in questions here on the blog!) I may not be able to get to your questions right away, so please be patient. Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
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