LOS ANGELES – Concern about the heavy metal cadmium in jewelry grew Tuesday as a California environmental group said new testing of adult necklaces and bracelets bought at three leading retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Aeropostale, detected high levels of the toxic material – as much as 75 percent by weight.
One of the pieces was made in China and another was made in India. Labeling on a black-colored link necklace, purchased at Saks for $69.99, did not indicate where it was made.
In its analysis, the Center for Environmental Health did an initial screening of 97 jewelry items with a technology called XRF, which uses X-rays to estimate how much of a metal is in an item. Alarmingly high levels of cadmium were detected in seven pieces, the group said. Based on the results of its testing, the center said it would seek a ban on cadmium in all jewelry.
The center said it began lab testing adult jewelry for cadmium after an Associated Press investigation reported last month that pieces of cheap children’s jewelry imported from China contained levels of cadmium of up to 91 percent of their total content.
In response to an AP inquiry about the adult jewelry findings, the parent company of Catherines, a national chain of plus-size stores, said Tuesday that it was pulling a bracelet with a pink “breast cancer awareness” charm that was found to have high levels of cadmium from all 460 of its stories. The item, made in China, was bought for $6.99.
Saks Inc. spokeswoman Julia Bentley said only: “We received a letter from the CEH today and are reviewing and evaluating this matter.” Aeropostale did not respond to requests for comment.
Cadmium is a known carcinogen, particularly when it is inhaled in a factory or other workplace. It also can cause serious problems with kidneys and bones, diseases that typically are caused by cadmium that has been ingested in contaminated food or tobacco. The exact risks to adults aren’t clear because typically the metal takes long-term exposure to cause the diseases.