Two new studies, one from Canada and one from Ireland, found alarming levels of lead in products marketing for kids, particularly jewelry and cosmetics.

In a government study conducted by Health Canada, researchers found that half of the children's jewelry items tested at the government's product safety laboratory last year were made of almost pure lead. The results, summarized in an internal report released to Canwest News Service under Access to Information laws, show most items contained lead levels nowhere near the legal limit, set at 0.6 per cent or 600 part per million. About 20 of the metallic pieces were made of almost pure lead, with levels ranging from 80 to 95 percent lead. The worst offender, a plastic wrist band with various metallic charms made of 95 percent lead, was labeled lead-free, according to Health Canada.

Overseas, Ireland's Department of Health issued recalls for contaminated batches of lip gloss, eye shadow and lipstick used as play make-up by children. The department confirmed that 11 of the recall alerts were issued after the lead tests were carried out by outside public labs. One set of tests revealed that lead levels in children's cosmetics bought in discount stores were 500 times higher than the recommended limit. Batches of children's cosmetics removed from sale due to lead content include some products made by the brands Girlz, Star Jeans, Girls World and Tracey 'Happy Hour' Glamour.

Wearing jewelry and cosmetics can be harmful to children, especially those who tend to chew, suck or swallow their toys. In 2006, a Michigan boy died after ingesting a charm with parts found to be almost pure lead.  

So what do these studies mean for children in the U.S.? Chances are, if these products are making their way to Canada and Ireland, they can and will make their way to the American market. So, once again, parents need to use extra caution when purchasing products for their kids. The bling is hardly worth the blech!

Photo: Calgary Girls Birthday Parties

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