Wal-Mart removes cadmium-laden jewelry
By JUSTIN PRITCHARD
LOS ANGELES — Wal-Mart said yesterday it is pulling an entire line of Miley Cyrus-brand necklaces and bracelets from its shelves after tests performed for The Associated Press found the jewelry contained high levels of the toxic metal cadmium.
In a statement issued three hours after AP's initial report of its findings, Wal-Mart said it would remove the jewelry, made exclusively for the world's largest retailer, while it investigates. The company issued the statement along with Cyrus and Max Azria, the designer who developed the jewelry for the 17-year-old "Hannah Montana" star.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had learned of cadmium in the Miley Cyrus jewelry, as well as in an unrelated line of bracelet charms, back in February, based on an earlier round of testing conducted at AP's request, but had continued selling the items. It said as recently as last month that it would be too difficult to test products already on its shelves.
In its statement, Wal-Mart did not say whether it would also remove the bracelet charms.
Exactly how many of the items have been sold was unclear. The charms — also available exclusively at Walmart stores — were sold under the name "Fashion Accessories," though Wal-Mart has not said when they began appearing on shelves. The Miley Cyrus jewelry hit stores in December.
Long-term exposure to cadmium can lead to bone softening and kidney failure. It is also a known carcinogen, and research suggests that it can, like lead, hinder brain development in the very young.
Cadmium in jewelry is not known to be dangerous if the items are simply worn. Concerns come when youngsters bite or suck on the jewelry, as many are apt to do.
Wal-Mart said while the jewelry is not intended for children, "it is possible that a few younger consumers may seek it out in stores."
"We are removing all of the jewelry from sale while we investigate its compliance with our children's jewelry standard," Wal-Mart said.
That was a reference to a policy Wal-Mart voluntarily implemented last month, under which suppliers are required to prove their products contain little cadmium, or else Wal-Mart would not accept them.
The company's policy of not checking products on shelves appears to have changed: In its statement, Wal-Mart said it reviewed children's jewelry and pulled those that did not comply with its new testing regimen.