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DHS news release

March 27, 2006

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (971) 673-1282
Technical contact: Richard Leiker (971) 673-0434


Alert to parents: charm bracelet contains lead, poses health risk

Public health authorities in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) are alerting parents to a national recall of a lead-containing charm bracelet.

The voluntary recall of 300,000 heart-shaped charm bracelets was issued by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) last week. It followed the death of a Minnesota child from acute lead poisoning after swallowing the heart-shaped charm.

Laboratory analysis of the charm from the child indicated it contained 99 percent lead.

The charm has the name "Reebok" engraved on one side. It was attached to an eight-inch- long metal bracelet that was given as a free gift with the purchase of shoes manufactured by Reebok International Ltd. 

"These shoes were distributed from May of 2004 through this March, so these toy bracelets could still be around," said Richard Leiker, environmental toxicology manager in DHS.

"The take-home message is that children should not be allowed to put metal objects in their mouths," Leiker said. "They have the potential of containing lead and, if they are small objects, they also pose a choking hazard."

If a child swallows any metal object, Leiker advises parents or caregivers to immediately call the Oregon Poison Center at (800) 222-1222.


In 2003, an Oregon child was sickened after swallowing a small medallion from a necklace purchased from a toy vending machine. The child recovered, but the incident led to a national recall of those particular metal toys and a change in CPSC's policy on lead in children's metal jewelry, according to Leiker

Meanwhile, a second CPSC recall for a lead poisoning danger was issued last week for 580,000 necklace-and-ring sets imported by Dollar Tree Distribution. The CPSC has issued product recalls for several types of children's toys or jewelry that have been manufactured with high lead content during the past few years.

"Parents should also check their child's toys at home for these items," said Leiker. "If you find any of these recalled jewelry items, discard them in the household trash and thoroughly wash your hands after handling."

Lead can harm anyone who swallows lead-containing products or breathes lead dust, and even small amounts can be harmful. It is especially dangerous to children because it can slow growth and development. Exposure to lead paint dust from older homes is the most common cause of lead poisoning, but lead or materials containing lead may be found in other products, according to Leiker.

The Minnesota case was highlighted last Thursday in a special edition of the federal Centers for Disease and Control's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report can be downloaded (PDF) here.