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Jewellery turns deadly, can cause cancer and reproductive harm

Oakland (California): Jewellery with the toxic metal cadmium is showing up on the shelves of national retailers including Ross, Nordstrom Rack and Papaya, according to newly released test results.

Jewellery turns deadly

Analysis done for the nonprofit Center for Environmental Health revealed some jewellery sold with women's dresses and shirts was nearly pure cadmium, which can cause cancer and reproductive harm after prolonged exposure.

Consumer advocates were hopeful cadmium had disappeared from the US jewellery market following changes prompted by an Associated Press investigation in 2010 found Chinese manufacturers were using the metal to make kids' jewellery.

States including California outlawed cadmium in children's jewellery and testing by the centre found the chemical had virtually disappeared from jewellery by 2012.

No laws address cadmium in adult jewellery, however, and last year the centre decided to check those products.

  • Lab testing found 31 adult jewellery items purchased from retail stores were at least 40 percent cadmium and most were more than 90 percent, according to results shared exclusively with the AP.

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  • California's law allows no more than 0.03 percent cadmium in jewellery.

The precise health risk from the tested jewellery is unclear because researchers did not assess whether small amounts shed when the jewellery is handled and worn.

  • Cadmium does not easily absorb through skin but if ingested over time accumulates in the body and can damage the kidneys and bones.

The Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit bought all the test samples in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The extent to which contaminated jewellery is in stores elsewhere isn't clear, though a national retailer would not typically limit a product to just one region.

The centre said the problem should not be underestimated because of the limited market sampling.

Brent Cleaveland, executive director of the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association, said he does not believe the test results suggest a larger problem.

Most major retailers have a stringent system for testing and analysing what they sell, he said.
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