You know that cute little charm bracelet you picked up last week on the sale rack at your favorite shop? It might have higher levels of the heavy metal cadmium than you’d like. This has become such a problem that five states have passed legislation limiting cadmium in jewelry, but mostly in items intended for children, since children tend to put these items (and anything, really) into their mouths, increasing their risk of poisoning.

Good news comes from major retailers like Target Corp. and Gap Inc., who have agreed to all but eliminate cadmium in jewelry and other accessories they sell. In 2012 in California, jewelry sold must contain less than 0.03 percent cadmium. This effectively becomes the national limit, because manufacturers will make their products to comply with California, and will likely make the same products for the rest of the country.

This all started last year when it was discovered that children’s jewelry no longer contained lead (which was banned), but rather, contained cadmium, which was not regulated. Cadmium can damage kidneys and bones, and may stunt the development of young brains. It’s not something you want little Janey putting into her mouth.

I’m glad these new standards are being set. They’re not just for children’s jewelry, but also for adults. In the meantime, you might want to stick with sterling silver.