Advocates for better controls on the safety children's toys are finding themselves in the corner with an unlikely advocate...Walmart.  That's right, the big box store that greenies love to hate may just become the savior for parents and safety advocates hoping to improve the quality of materials used to manufacture children's toys.

The world's largest retailer revealed last week that it has started to crack down on the use of the toxic metal cadmium in children's jewelry and other kids' products.  Walmart's decision was prompted by an AP investigation that revealed high levels of cadmium in some pieces of children's jewelry, including several which Walmart later recalled.  There are currently no government regulations on the level of cadmium that is allowed in children's jewelry., and many manufacturers had begun using the metal in place of lead after toys with high lead levels were pulled off of the shelves.  Worried parents and health and safety advocates have been pushing Congress to enact tougher legislation to ensure the safety of children's toys.  But Walmart isn't waiting around for the government to act.

Instead, children's jewelry and craft-making kits, toys and child-care articles such as bibs and pacifiers manufactured as of April 9 are being tested for cadmium, Walmart Stores Inc. said.  Walmart's new testing regimen follows cadmium standards set by the European Union, according to Peggy Fowler, the chain's senior director of product safety and regulatory compliance. She told agency staff that Walmart wants U.S. regulators to devise a standard for acceptable cadmium levels as soon as possible — and that in the meantime, the company is working off the European model.

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