LOS ANGELES, Ca. (AP) — New testing shows toxic metal in jewelry on shelves in national stores including Ross, Nordstrom Rack, and Papaya.
The tests showed that some women’s jewelry was nearly pure cadmium.
Cadmium is a cancer-causing metal and prolonged exposure can also cause reproductive harm. Experts say cadmium can accumulate in the body over time and can be absorbed by the skin, ingested, or inhaled.
Michael Harbut, a practicing doctor who as a university professor has researched cadmium’s cancer-causing properties, noted that contact can trigger skin rashes including psoriasis.
“Cadmium is bad,” said Harbut, who teaches at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. “Given a choice between wearing something with cadmium in it, or wearing something without cadmium in it, I would take the product without cadmium.”
Most of the products were from Ross.
Consumer advocates were hopeful cadmium had disappeared from the U.S. jewelry market following changes prompted by a 2010 Associated Press investigation that 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.
“It’s very disappointing that we’re still seeing cadmium, an incredibly toxic metal, in jewelry,” said Michael Green, CEO o the Center for Environmental Health. “We found it in 2010 and 36 companies agreed to eliminate it. Now unfortunately in 2018, we have to do the same thing again.”
In statements to the Associated Press, Ross and Nordstrom have reached out to their suppliers and Papaya has issued a recall.
Papaya said it considers cadmium in its products a serious problem. It operates more than 100 retail locations nationwide.
Steven Kim, an attorney representing Papaya, said the company has recalled the products where contamination was found and stopped buying from the manufacturer in China.
“Our manufacturers are required to represent and warrant that their products are in legal compliance,” Kim said. “Papaya is very strict and stops doing business with any manufacturer which fails to comply.”
The Center for Environmental Health has long used California law to force companies to reduce levels of harmful materials in consumer products, including cadmium and lead in jewelry.
Under the state’s Proposition 65, businesses must inform consumers about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer or other reproductive harm.
The nonprofit has settled Proposition 65 claims against 36 companies, including Gap Inc. and Target Corp., which agreed to not sell jewelry with more than 0.03 percent cadmium.
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