Jeff Donn, The Associated Press, July 13, 2010

Washington D.C.

About 137,000 pieces of imported children’s jewelry sold at two stores popular with preteen girls — Justice and Limited Too — were recalled Tuesday for high levels of cadmium, the latest in a series of recalls involving the toxic metal.

The voluntary recall, announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, was the sixth callback since The Associated Press first released findings of an investigation into cadmium in children’s jewelry.

The recalls, which started in January with children’s jewelry sold at Walmart stores, have included about 12 million “Shrek” movie-themed drinking glasses distributed by McDonald’s restaurants. The other recalls targeted at least 200,000 pieces of jewelry, mostly for children.

The latest recall involved 19 different styles of necklaces, bracelets and earrings imported and distributed by Tween Brands, based in New Albany, Ohio. In addition to the two sets of retail stores, the items were sold online at

They are made in the shape of hearts, butterflies, cupcakes, peace signs and crowns. Some pieces carry a version of the words “Best Friends Forever.” The CPSC said the pieces sold for $7-$16 from November 2008 through February.

Consumers are asked to take the jewelry away from children and return it to the store for a full refund. Tween Brands set up a recall hot line at 800-934-4497.

The recall was prompted by test reports submitted by the company itself. A company spokeswoman, Carrie Bloom, said the recall was decided “out of an abundance of caution.” She said the company was taking other steps to improve its testing standards.

Like most of the contaminated jewelry first tested for the AP, the Tween jewelry was made in China, said the CPSC.

No injuries were reported in connection with the recall.

The nonprofit Center for Environmental Health, based in Oakland, Calif., welcomed the recall. “Parents should not have to worry that jewelry for their children may be tainted with metals that can cause lifelong health problems,” said Caroline Cox, the group’s research director.

In February, the group filed legal notices against Tween Brands and three other retailers for selling cadmium-tainted jewelry.

Cadmium is a naturally occurring metal that, if ingested, can weaken bones and kidneys. Children can be exposed if they bite and suck on or in rare cases, swallow products containing cadmium.

Industry representatives called Tuesday for a review of the standards for cadmium in consumer products. “There needs to be a national standard now based on science,” said Paul Nathanson, a spokesman for the Fashion Jewelry Trade and Accessories Association.

While there are no federal requirements for testing cadmium in children’s jewelry, some companies have started voluntarily reviewing the issue since the AP reported that some Chinese manufacturers substituted cadmium when a 2008 federal law effectively banned lead from children’s jewelry.

Testing published by AP in January showed some jewelry was as much as 91 percent cadmium by weight, and that high levels could leach out of items when run through a test that mimics what would happen if a child swallows a cadmium-laced piece.

On Tuesday, CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson reiterated the agency’s warning to Asian manufacturers “not to substitute cadmium in place for lead.”

Wolfson said agency staff is developing a “highly protective” standard for cadmium in children’s products, but he said it is undergoing scientific review. The agency now applies a legal guideline that simply allows action against “hazardous levels,” without setting specific levels, he said.