Loaded with lead

In the largest recall of its kind in US history, four toy jewellery importers recently announced a voluntary withdrawal of 150 million pieces of toy jewellery from the country's market. The decision was taken after the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found many of these items containing dangerous levels of lead. The rings, necklaces and bracelets, made in India, were sold in vending machines outsides grocery stores and malls since January 2002. The four importers control more than 90 per cent of the US market.

CPSC approached the importers after test results on 10 pieces of jewellery showed lead content, according to Ken Giles, CPSC spokesperson. Although only around half of these toys would be dangerous, the decision aims at removing the confusion about what is safe and what isn't. Lead poisoning in children causes behavioural problems, growth retardation, hearing and learning disabilities and affects their nervous system.

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