Toxic metal cadmium found in jewelry from Ross, Nordstrom Rack, Papaya

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If you purchased jewelry from Ross, Nordstrom Rack or Papaya, that jewelry may contain the toxic metal cadmium, according to newly released test results.

If you purchased jewelry from Ross, Nordstrom Rack or Papaya, that jewelry may contain the toxic metal cadmium, according to newly released test results.

According to analysis done for the nonprofit Center for Environmental Health, some jewelry sold with women's dresses and shirts was nearly pure cadmium.

The Oakland-based nonprofit bought all the test samples in the San Francisco Bay Area this year or last year.

The extent to which contaminated jewelry is in stores elsewhere isn't clear, though a national retailer would not typically limit a product to just one region.

Extended exposure to cadmium can cause cancer and reproductive harm.

States including California outlawed cadmium in children's jewelry, and testing by the center found the chemical had virtually disappeared from jewelry by 2012.

However, no laws address cadmium in adult jewelry. Last year, the center decided to check those products. Lab testing found 31 adult jewelry items purchased from retail stores were at least 40 percent cadmium, and most were more than 90 percent, according to results shared with the Associated Press.

California's law allows no more than 0.03 percent cadmium in children's jewelry. The precise health risk from the tested jewelry is unclear because researchers did not assess whether small amounts shed when the jewelry is handled and worn.

Over time, cadmium accumulates in the body and can damage the kidneys and bones. Most exposure happens by ingesting small amounts or by breathing it, most commonly through tobacco, which can contain cadmium. Researchers also have documented some absorption through skin contact, though the phenomenon is not well-studied.

Most of the tainted items were sold at Ross, which operates more than 1,400 stores in 38 states. One pendant from a necklace chain was 100 percent cadmium, according to the testing.

In a written statement, Ross said it is committed to protecting its customers and has "addressed this issue with our supplier." The retailer would not say whether it pulled suspect jewelry from stores.

The brands found with high cadmium levels in Ross stores include Tacera and Vibe Sportswear.

Xinwei Xie, chief executive officer at Trend Textile Inc., which owns Tacera, declined to comment when reached by phone. The Skate Group Inc., which owns Vibe Sportswear, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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."

Nordstrom spokeswoman Emily Sterken said the company is "reaching out to these vendors to make them aware of the situation and get more information on these items."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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