Two leading British stores, Hamleys, the largest toyshop, and Monsoon, a high street fashion chain, have both withdrawn Chinese-made children's jewellery and trinkets from their shelves.
As in the case of the millions of Chinese manufactured toys recalled by toy major Mattel last week, samples from these trinkets were found to contain extremely high levels of lead. If ingested, these could cause poisoning, leading to brain damage and in rare cases, even death.
The discovery came after an investigation by The Sunday Times, which purchased 24 items of children's jewellery from shops in London and Birmingham and had them analysed. Eight tested positive for high lead content, with six containing components with more than 80 per cent lead, against a recommended international safety limit of 0.06 per cent. Two of the eight items had been bought at a Hamleys store, and two more at a Monsoon outlet. A bracelet with heart shapes on it from Hamleys, costing £4.99, had 93 per cent lead content.
"High levels of lead in children's jewellery are totally unacceptable," said Paul Currie, trading director at Hamleys, adding that an immediate probe was being launched.
Dippal Manchanda, technical director of the Birmingham Assay Office, the laboratory that conducted the tests for The Sunday Times, said: "The findings from the samples submitted are worrying… they could cause major harm if a child were to put them in its mouth."