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Widespread lead contamination of imported low-cost jewelry in the US

TitleWidespread lead contamination of imported low-cost jewelry in the US
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsWeidenhamer JD, Clement ML
Journal TitleChemosphere
Keywords', children, Jewelry, lead, Neurotoxicity, s health
AbstractRecent recalls of lead-contaminated jewelry and the death of a Minnesota child by lead poisoning after swallowing a jewelry charm have highlighted the hazards of leaded jewelry to children. We sought to determine the extent of lead contamination in inexpensive, imported jewelry available in United States retail stores. A total of 139 jewelry items were purchased from ten retail store chains in five different geographic locations. Samples were digested in nitric acid followed by atomic absorption analysis. Accessibility of lead was analyzed by leaching a subset of heavily leaded samples in 0.07 M hydrochloric acid. Almost half (42.6%) of the items assayed were heavily leaded, exceeding 80% lead by weight. Average lead content for all items tested was 44.0%, and one or more heavily leaded items were found in samples from each retail store and each geographic location. Six of ten samples tested for leachability of lead exceeded the US Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines of 175 [mu]g accessible lead. Our results show that much inexpensive children's and costume jewelry imported and sold in the US is heavily leaded. Given the high neurotoxicity of lead to young children, inexpensive jewelry items pose a potential yet avoidable threat to children's health.
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