Major retailers reach agreement on toxic women's accessories

A crystal cadmium bar.
A crystal cadmium bar.

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Major national retailers and suppliers including Gap Inc. and Target have reached a settlement with a California environmental group that will almost entirely eliminate the use of the toxic metal cadmium in women's accessories and jewelry.

Cadmium is a known carcinogen that attacks the kidney and bones. Manufacturers have used the soft mineral in metal jewelry in place of lead which is known to cause myriad health problems of it's own.

The legal agreement, approved by a judge Friday, is between the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health and 26 retailers and suppliers. The agreement states that starting in 2012 jewelry sold at the stores in California must contain less than .03 of a percent of cadmium. Because of the size of California's market, that effectively becomes a national standard.

The settlement applies to children's and adult jewelry.