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China investigates toxic jewellery claims

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AFP
Published
today Jan 14, 2010
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BEIJING, Jan 14, 2010 (AFP) - China is investigating claims that children's jewellery exported to the United States contained a highly toxic metal used to make batteries and plastics, state media reported Thursday 14 January.


Claire's jewellery, Walmart and Claire's Stores said this week they had removed Chinese-made children's jewellery from their shelves - Photo: www.claires.com

"We've heard about it and are looking for more information," an official surnamed Song, who heads toy safety at the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine was quoted by the China Daily as saying.

"We need to find out whether the accused products came out of China through legal means."

Song said children's jewellery was not on the government's mandatory inspection list.

Quarantine officials did not immediately respond to queries by AFP.

US department stores Walmart and Claire's Stores said this week they had removed Chinese-made children's jewellery from their shelves after reports that some bracelets and pendants had been found to contain the heavy metal cadmium.

"We will immediately remove from sale those items identified in recent media reports regarding cadmium while our own investigation is being completed and until more is known," Walmart said in a statement posted on its website.

Cadmium is a highly toxic metal used in batteries, metal coatings and plastics and has been shown to cause lung cancer, according to the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

The reputation of China's poorly regulated and corruption-plagued manufacturing industry has been deeply tarnished in recent years by safety scandals involving dangerous foods, toys and other products.

Last month, media reported that a Chinese dairy shut down during the 2008 tainted milk scandal had been closed again after tests found some of its products contained melamine, the same toxic chemical found 18 months ago.

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