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Jewelry with cadmium found in retail stores
Jewelry 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. Analysis done for the nonprofit Center for Environmental Health revealed some jewelry 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 U.S. jewelry market following changes prompted by an Associated Press investigation in 2010 found Chinese manufacturers were using the metal to make kids' jewelry. States including California outlawed cadmium in children's jewelry and testing by the center found the chemical had virtually disappeared from jewelry by 2012. No laws address cadmium in adult jewelry, however, and last year the center decided to check those products. Lab testing found 31 adult jewelry 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. California's law allows no more than 0.03 percent cadmium in jewelry. The precise health risk from the tested jewelry is unclear because researchers did not assess whether small amounts shed when the jewelry 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 jewelry is in stores elsewhere isn't clear, though a national retailer would not typically limit a product to just one region. The center 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 analyzing what they sell, he said.