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Health Team

Toxin found in children's jewelry can cause disease

Posted March 8, 2011 5:40 p.m. EST
Updated March 8, 2011 7:13 p.m. EST

A dangerous chemical lurking in some children's jewelry can cause kidney, bone, lung and liver disease, according to a new study from Ashland University in Ohio.

Cadmium, a toxic metal that is often used as a cheap alternative to lead, can accumulate in the body and is often associated with kidney damage.

"It's quite toxic to people and especially to children," said Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. 

The study looked mostly at charms and pendants imported from China and found that children who put the objects in their mouth or accidentally swallow them can be exposed to as much as 100 times the recommended limit of cadmium.

Several states have passed laws limiting how much cadmium can be used in costume jewelry, but North Carolina is not one of them.

Last year, Walmart pulled Hannah Montana jewelry from its shelves and McDonald's stopped giving away Shrek drinking glasses because they contained the toxin. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that parents not allow their young children to play with metal costume jewelry.

Landrigan agreed.

"Don't buy cheap, imported jewelry because there is no way looking at it that a parent can tell (if) it contains cadmium or lead," he said.