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Target, Walmart, and toy importer sued for toxic levels of lead in kids' jewelry kits

Lead is hazardous to almost every system in the body, and children are particularly vulnerable to its dangerous effects.

The New York attorney general is suing Target, Walmart and a toy importer for allegedly distributing children's jewelry-making kits that contain dangerous levels of lead.

Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood said thousands of “Cra-Z-Jewelz” jewelry-making kits imported by LaRose Industries and sold in Target and Walmart stores in New York state include pieces containing lead at up to 10 times the federal limit.

A "Cra-Z-Jewelz" jewelry making kit.New York AG

The parts had lead levels of 120 to 980 parts per million, the attorney general's office found in two separate investigations in 2015 and 2016, according to a statement. The federal limit for children's products is 100 ppm.

Lead is hazardous to almost every system in the body, and symptoms of lead poisoning are often difficult to spot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children are particularly vulnerable to the dangerous effects of lead.

“No parent should have to worry that their child’s toy may be toxic,” Underwood said.

The attorney general's findings prompted the jewelry-making sets to be recalled in 2016, but the state is suing in an effort to keep lead-laden toys off shelves in the future and to hold the companies accountable.

The suit asks Target and Walmart to randomly test toys and make sure imported toys have valid certificates of compliance. The attorney general's office said Target and Walmart have so far refused requests to take these "affirmative measures."

Target said in a statement that it "immediately and voluntarily" pulled the jewelry kits from shelves as soon as "the New York Attorney General let us know about the allegations with this product after its testing back in 2016."

Walmart said in a statement that it removed the toys from its stores and website as soon as "LaRose Industries made us aware of the product recall nearly three years ago."

Both companies said they aim to keep their customers safe and require vendors to follow safety laws and standards.

LaRose, which sells toys under the brand name Cra-Z-Art, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suit is also asking for penalties that could range from $70 to $6,000 for each jewelry-making kit the companies tried to sell in New York.