'Lead-free' Calif. jewelry found with lead

LOS ANGELES They are earrings and necklaces you can find at any local store, but Tuesday, state officials are urging consumers not to buy them because they contain toxic amounts of lead.

"We looked at some children's jewelry, some religious pendants, some adult jewelry, and we found that a lot of these items have significantly high amounts of lead," said /*Department of Toxic Substances Control*/ Acting Director Maziar Movassaghi.

For the past two years, state officials have been actively monitoring lead in jewelry. Investigators say these tainted items are currently being sold at six local businesses.

"We're trying to work with retailers and wholesalers to get the word out because at some points, as some of the items on the next table you see are advertised as being lead- or nickel-free, and they are actually not," said Movassaghi.

Officials say religious necklaces are being sold right now and do have high lead content. Officials are concerned because people tend to bring these items close to their faces while praying.

"Some pieces -- there's that particular pendant over there is almost 70 percent lead," said Movassaghi. "There's enough lead in there to melt it and use it for other purposes."

Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems and even death, especially among young children. Authorities are asking people to take precautions.

"If you have children that have these materials, please take them away," said Movassaghi. "If you can dispose of them in your county's hazardous waste facilities, please take it there."



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