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Before the problem was lead, but now Chinese manufacturers have turned to using cadmium in children’s jewelry–an even more dangerous heavy metal. By testing 103 pieces of children’s jewelry bought in New York, Ohio, Texas and California, an Associated Press investigation discovered high levels of cadmium present in sparkly charm bracelets and shiny pendants. In fact, one of the most contaminated pieces of jewelry tested in the investigation contained 91% cadmium by weight. Other pieces of jewelry tested contained 89%, 86% and 84% by weight. Even more disturbing was that the investigators found that much of the jewelry easily shed the heavy metal, raising concerns about the level of cadmium exposure to children.

Cadmium is a carcinogen and much like lead it can lead to brain damage in the very young. Furthermore, children needn’t swallow a piece of jewelry to be exposed to the metal–children can be exposed to regular low-level doses just by sucking or biting jewelry with high cadmium content. Much of the contaminated jewelry was bought at Wal-mart, Claire’s, and dollar stores. Moreover, some of the contaminated jewelry was "Princess and the Frog" movie-themed pendants.

Federal and state officials responded quickly after the AP released the results of its investigation. In taped remarks to be delivered today to Hong Kong, the chairwoman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urged all countries to ensure manufacturers do not use dangerous metals in children’s toys–specifically cadmium, barium or antimony. The commission also announced that it will conduct its own investigation into the AP’s findings.

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