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AP Impact: Feds Muff Kid Jewelry Cadmium Crackdown

The AP made three visits to a dozen small shops in Los Angeles' jewelry district during a 19-month period ending in March. A reporter bought bracelets, necklaces and charm bracelets that salespeople said would make a good gift for a kindergartner.

Twenty of 64 items purchased were at least 5 percent cadmium, and often much higher, according to tests using an Olympus Innov-X X-ray fluorescence gun that estimates what metals are in jewelry. Subsequent lab testing showed that several pendants were hazardous based on CPSC guidelines. One was 85 percent cadmium.

Additional proof that cadmium jewelry was being sold comes from testing by two advocacy groups, the California-based Center for Environmental Health and Michigan-based Ecology Center. Lab results indicated that trinkets bought at Halloween costume stores last fall in the San Francisco Bay area and discounters in New York and Ohio over the winter were between 20 and 30 percent cadmium.

While the items would appeal to kids, they weren't recalled, apparently because the CPSC did not consider them children's products. If jewelry isn't "primarily intended" for kids 12 and under, it's an adult product â¿¿ and adult products have no cadmium restrictions.

Results of the testing by AP and the advocacy groups reinforce ongoing reporting on the larger question â¿¿ whether the CPSC has kept its word on taking the strongest steps possible to clean up store shelves and children's jewelry boxes.

In fact, the CPSC has been aware that cadmium jewelry was being sold in some discount shops since at least September 2010. That's when the agency's lab reported hazardous readings from a children's pendant bought at a small shop in New York City. As with jewelry AP bought in Los Angeles, there were no manufacturer markings on the packaging â¿¿ and that made it difficult to track the pendant to its source.

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