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Children's jewelry at Target did not contain high levels of lead, health department says

The Baltimore Health Department said it was mistaken when it reported that a piece of inexpensive children's jewelry for sale at Target contained high levels of lead.

Health Department spokesman Michael Schwartzberg said Monday that a staff member misread a lab test of the $6 Hello Kitty necklace sold at the Target store in Canton. The necklace did not violate the federal government's lead limit for children's items, he said.

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The city health department routinely tests children's jewelry and toys for lead, which can cause brain damage in children. Lead has been banned from paints and gasoline in the United States for decades, but the metal is used in consumer items in some other countries, and imported items can be a concern.

Exposurere to even low amounts of lead can reduce IQ scores and cause problems in school and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, with deficits in vocabulary, fine motor skills, reaction time and hand-eye coordination. It can also be deadly.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission encourages parents not to let children swallow, suck on or chew jewelry.

The health department did find that a six-piece earring set sold at Five Below in Canton last month did contain levels of lead beyond the legal limit. The city conducted an inspection June 12 and sent items to an independent lab for testing. The city has banned the sale of items similar to the Five Below jewelry.

Five Below, a teen- and preteen-oriented store with items under $5, said it immediately removed the items from shelves and discussed the situation with the manufacturer.

Since 2007, the health department has found about 50 violations in 350 tests.

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