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The toxic metal cadmium has been found in adult jewelry sold at a number of U.S. national retailers, according to the Center for Environmental Health.
Prolonged exposure to cadmium can cause cancer and reproductive problems, the Associated Press reported.
Tests showed that some jewelry sold with women's dresses and shirts was nearly pure cadmium, according to the Oakland-based nonprofit group. Stores selling the jewelry include Ross, Nordstrom Rack and Papaya.
A number of states banned cadmium in children's jewelry, but none have laws about cadmium in adult jewelry, the AP reported.
The Center for Environmental Health bought adult jewelry from retail stores in the San Francisco Bay Area this year and last and sent the items for lab testing. The results showed that 31 were at least 40 percent cadmium, and most were more than 90 percent.
How the findings apply nationwide is unclear, but national retailers would not normally sell a product in just one region, the AP reported.
The problem should not be underestimated due to the fact that the jewelry was bought in only one region, according to the center.
"If you're the person that buys and is wearing that jewelry, you don't really care whether it's a common problem or a rare problem," Caroline Cox, senior scientist at the center, told the AP. "You have a problem."
The test results do not suggest a wider problem, according to Brent Cleaveland, executive director of the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association. Most major retailers carefully test and analyze what they sell, he told the AP.
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