U.S. and Canadian product safety authorities will investigate the presence of cadmium in children’s jewelry imported from China, and Wal-Mart has pulled the items from shelves after lab tests showed some were made almost entirely of the toxic metal.

The promise for action is the result of an Associated Press investigation that found some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting cadmium for lead in cheap charm bracelets and pendants being sold throughout the United States and possibly Canada.

Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the U.S. commission, said the agency would study the test results and take the necessary action. Health Canada said it is concerned and has begun an investigation.

A patchwork of U.S. consumer protection regulations does nothing to keep these nuggets of cadmium off store shelves. If the products were painted toys, they would face a recall. If they were industrial garbage, they could qualify as hazardous waste. But since there are no cadmium restrictions on jewelry, such items are sold legally.

In separate written statements, Dickens and Wal-Mart said they consider safety a very high priority. “We consistently seek to sell only those products that meet safety and regulatory standards,” Wal-Mart said. “Currently, there is no required cadmium standard for children’s jewelry.”

Health Canada said its investigation will include sampling and testing of children’s jewelry for cadmium, and that it will take appropriate action once that’s completed. The agency also said it’s the responsibility of companies to ensure that consumer products they import, sell or advertise meet all requirements of the Hazardous Products Act.

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