Avoid Buying Toxic Jewelry for Kids This Holiday Season
If you're buying jewelry for a little girl this holiday season, take steps to make sure you're not giving gifts that contain hazardous substances.
One step might be to look at where you buy the jewelry. A recent report by the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) shows that Walmart is selling jewelry with alarmingly high levels of lead.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Lead is highly toxic to the developing brain and there is no safe level of exposure, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Adverse effects can include decreased IQ levels, increased ADHD and increased hearing impairment as blood lead levels increase.
WTC purchased a variety of jewelry such as earrings, necklaces and bracelets labeled “Distributed by Wal-mart Stores, Inc.” in August. Many of the jewelry purchased has sparkly, brightly colored designs that appeal to young girls.
WTC found that eight out of 34 (almost 25 percent) of Walmart jewelry tested contained levels of lead ranging from 7,748 ppm (parts per million) to 357,790 ppm—which made the pieces more than one-third lead. That is 300 times the federal limit of 100 ppm for children’s products.
Here are the eight top tips from the chat:
- Speak up to retailers. Ask if their jewelry is lead-free and demand safer products.
- Buy jewelry only from reputable companies that you trust. One tip is to buy nothing under $10—but even then we can’t be sure.
- Look for (or make your own) jewelry from silver, gold, beads, or cloth.
- Avoid jewelry labeled “Not for children,” which could be hiding lead or other heavy metals.
- Spread the word: tell neighbors, grandparents or anyone who will listen that trinkets from coin machines, Walmart, or Claire’s may be harmful.
- Call on Walmart to protect child health and only sell safe, lead-free jewelry. Until they do—don’t buy it.
- Encourage kids to wash hands frequently and keep jewelry out of their mouths.
- Purge your child’s costume jewelry every so often and keep the safer choices.
- Teach 'tweens and teens about this issue—and how it can affect them. Instead of simply telling them they can’t have the jewelry, engage with youth on the issue. Join with them to encourage better choices.
- Consider a safer, high-quality piece of jewelry when buying gifts for family and friends.
WTC is calling on Walmart to act to protect public health, especially children, through these actions:
- Immediately remove these lead-containing jewelry products from its stores.
- Commit to a timeline for phasing out Mind the Store’s list of Hazardous Hundred chemicals, which includes lead, from all of its products.
In addition, WTC is calling on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate these products for compliance in accordance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and to take appropriate enforcement action.
"With everything we know about the devastating, costly effects of exposure to lead, it is unconscionable that such high levels were found in the products they sell,” said Erika Schreder, WTC science director.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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