WAKEFIELD, Mass., Sept. 21 Friends of Mel, a non-profitfoundation established to support cancer-fighting research and programs, todayannounced that it is recalling due to high lead levels the jewelry itdistributes to donors who contribute to its cancer-related programs. TheFoundation had a written assurance from a foreign supplier that the braceletsdid not contain lead. When Friends of Mel recently learned that there mayindeed be lead in the bracelets, they took the proactive step of hiring anindependent lab and sending random samples for testing.
The bracelets and rings sold by Friends of Mel consist of bright multi-colored beads interspersed with silver-tone rings. Independent lab testresults show that the beads contain no lead; however the small rings have ahigh lead content. Therefore, Friends of Mel wanted to notify consumersimmediately and institute a recall. The mechanics of the recall are stillbeing put into place, but will involve replacing the jewelry with lead-freeproduct. We ask contributors to accept the replacement instead of a monetaryrefund so we can continue our good works.
In addition, Friends of Mel contacted a lead expert, Dr. Rudolph Jaeger,Principal Scientist of Environmental Medicine, Inc., and Retired ResearchProfessor in the Institute of Environmental Medicine at NYU Medical School.Dr. Jaeger said that the risk to adults from wearing the jewelry is low, butthat transmission of lead occurs when the skin touching the jewelry is broughtto the mouth, allowing for absorption.
"The bracelet should be absolutely kept away from children," said Dr.Jaeger. "The risk to adults is extremely low, but that the lead levels in thejewelry under certain conditions may pose a hazard to children and to a fetusin utero. Caregivers of infants and young children should be warned about thepotential risk of hand transfer of lead. The jewelry already carries a warningto keep the products away from children because of the potential for a chokinghazard due to small parts."
Pauline Alighieri, Executive Director for Friends of Mel, said "I amheartsick over this situation. We worked long and hard to build ourreputation as an upstanding foundation that helps people, and now, thanks to asupplier having lied to us, we are faced with a very difficult situation. Weextend our sincere apologies to all those who have purchased our jewelry andwe are working on a replacement program involving lead-free jewelry. However,as a small foundation this may take quite some time."
Alighieri added that the Foundation has minimal staff, but it will do itsbest to manage this situation by implementing a Plan of Action. In additionto contracting with an outside testing lab and retaining a lead expert, theplan will consist of the following:
Alighieri said, "We appreciate everyone's patience and support as we workthrough this very challenging situation. We hope that friends of MEL willemerge even stronger from this ordeal."
If you wish, please return your bracelet to The Friends of Mel Foundation,Post Office Box 1660, Wakefield, MA 01880. As soon as we have the replacementjewelry, we will send it to you and reimburse your postage.
For more consumer information, please visit the Friends of Mel website at:http://www.melsbracelets.org.
The Friends of Mel Foundation was created to fund promising and creativeprojects that impact the care of cancer patients at both grassroots andinstitutional levels. It was named after Mel Simmons, a spiritual woman oflegendary generosity and boundless energy, who lost her life to breast cancer.Throughout her five-year battle, Mel guided and comforted other cancerpatients and survivors and the Foundation proudly keeps her work alive. Ineighteen months, through the sale of Mel's bracelets, over one million dollarshas been donated to the Massachusetts General Hos