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US retailers agree to cadmium limits

Jewelry sold at participating retailers’ stores in California must contain less than 0.03 percent cadmium. Jewelry sold at participating retailers’ stores in California must contain less than 0.03 percent cadmium. (Consumer Product Safety Commission via Associated Press)
Associated Press / September 7, 2011

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LOS ANGELES - Major national retailers, including Target Corp. and Gap Inc., have agreed to all but eliminate the toxic metal cadmium in jewelry and other accessories they sell.

Starting in 2012, jewelry sold at the stores in California must contain less than 0.03 percent cadmium - a soft, whitish metal that in high enough amounts can cause cancer and other harm. Because of the size of California’s market, that effectively becomes a national limit - though it doesn’t carry the force of law in other states.

Five states have passed legislation limiting cadmium in jewelry, but typically they apply to items intended for children, who are especially vulnerable to poisoning.

The new legal agreement, approved by a California judge Friday, applies to children’s and adult jewelry.

It is between the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health and 26 retailers and suppliers, also among them Aeropostale, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Claire’s, an international jewelry and accessories chain store.