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Environment

Toxic Metals Found In Low-Cost Jewelry

by Britt E. Erickson
March 19, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 12

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Credit: Jeff Gearhart/HealthyStuff.org
Necklace with cat pendant marked as lead-free was found to contain 15% cadmium.
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Credit: Jeff Gearhart/HealthyStuff.org
Necklace with cat pendant marked as lead-free was found to contain 15% cadmium.

More than a quarter of the low-cost jewelry tested by an environmental advocacy group contains lead levels that exceed the federal limit of 300 ppm set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Ecology Center, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., tested 99 pieces of jewelry that were purchased last December from 14 different U.S. retailers in six states. Most of the jewelry cost less than $10. The group used a handheld X-ray fluorescence device to measure levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and other toxic metals in the jewelry. Overall, the group reported that 59% of the jewelry tested contained one or more toxic chemicals at high levels. “There is no excuse for jewelry, especially children’s jewelry, to be made with some of the most well-studied and dangerous substances on the planet,” says Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org. “We urge manufacturers to start replacing these chemicals with nontoxic substances immediately.”

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