Federal regulators expanding investigation into children's jewelry

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Federal regulators announced another recall
of children's jewelry with high levels of the toxic metal cadmium
Monday, also saying they've expanded their investigation in an
effort to keep dangerous items off store shelves in the first
place.
A spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission told
The Associated Press its inspectors at 10 of the nation's largest
ports are now screening children's jewelry - typically imported
from China - for cadmium.
"Our surveillance and detection program has now been expanded"
through the use of special guns that shoot X-rays into jewelry to
estimate how much cadmium each item might contain, spokesman Scott
Wolfson said.
Word of increased scrutiny came as the agency announced the
voluntary recall of about 19,000 "Best Friends" charm bracelet
sets made in China and sold exclusively at the jewelry and
accessories store Claire's, which has more than 3,000 stores in
North America and Europe.
Agency scientists confirmed independent test results that were
reported by AP in January, which showed high levels of cadmium in
the "Best Friends" bracelet.
The recall pertains only to such items previously sold at
Claire's; several days after AP's initial investigation became
public, the chain said it would immediately stop selling the item.
While the CPSC does not release its results, testing done for
the AP revealed that bracelets sold at Claire's contained up to 91
percent cadmium by weight, and shed alarming amounts during a test
that examined how much cadmium children might be exposed to if they
accidentally swallow the charms.
"Cadmium is toxic if ingested by children and can cause adverse
health effects," the agency said in its recall announcement.
Medical research shows that cadmium in high levels is a known
carcinogen and can harm kidneys and bones.
Consumers should take away from children the bracelets, which
were sold for about $12, and return them to Claire's for a
replacement or refund, according to the announcement.
The CPSC identified the manufacturer as Dae Yeon Industries
Corp., of China.
As part of its announcement in January that it was pulling the
item from store shelves, the chain released a statement saying the
items were safe, but that the decision was made "out of an
abundance of caution." On Monday, Claire's did not immediately
respond to a request for comment, including why it had waited four
months to agree to a recall for the "Best Friends" bracelets it
had sold in the year before the AP story.
Monday's recall was the third prompted by AP's investigation.
Before this year, no consumer product in the United States had been
recalled because of cadmium.
Representatives of jewelry importers and manufacturers have
rejected the idea that children's metal jewelry is unsafe. Michael
Gale, the executive director of the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories
Trade Association, has told several state legislatures that are
considering strict limits on cadmium in jewelry that if those laws
pass, it might be impossible to put any lower-priced children's
jewelry on stores shelves where those laws apply.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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