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Mon, Nov 19, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Kmart to remove `lead-free' jewelry from stores in US

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Kmart Corp said it will remove all costume jewelry labeled as "lead free" and sold throughout the US after some of the pieces were found to contain the metal.

Most of the jewelry is part of the Accessories brand line, said Kimberly Freely, a spokeswoman for Sears Holdings Corp, Kmart's parent company, in an interview on Saturday from Chicago.

"We removed the jewelry from our Kmart stores nationwide out of an abundance of caution and to keep consumers from being confused," Freely said.

One charm tested by Karla Johnson, manager of the Lead-Safe and Healthy Homes Program of the Marion County Health Department in Indiana, was found to be 52 percent lead.

Johnson discovered the lead in the jewelry after she bought her 18-month-old daughter earrings and a necklace at her local Kmart about a month ago. She tested the jewelry with a hand-held X-ray fluorescent lead analyzer, provided by her job.

As soon as Johnson learned about the lead content she said she contacted Kmart.

When she didn't get a response, she enlisted the help of her friend Janet McCabe, the executive director of Improving Kids' Environment, a nonprofit group that works on lead poisoning and other issues affecting children.

"There's just been so much in the news about high lead content in children's toys and products, we had to do something," McCabe said in an interview.

McCabe bought about 20 sets of jewelry in another Kmart in Indianapolis, some labeled "lead free" and others not. The "lead-free" jewelry had more lead, on average, than the unmarked sets.

Kmart has 1,416 stores in 49 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, according to the company's Web site.

The New York Times reported on the lead in the jewelry earlier.

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