A new research has found toxic substances in most imitation jewellery sold in Bangladesh’s marketsThese cheap, glossy and colourful accessories have been found to contain toxic elements like mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium and arsenic that vaporise in room temperature and permeate through the skin. A survey by Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) has also found that customers were mostly unaware that these substances cause a number of ailments among children as well as adults. The survey looked at 67 jewellery items — 32 for adult and 35 for children. Samples of these accessory items including earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, chains, bangles were collected from malls in Dhaka and Chittagong and tested in EARTH XRF laboratory in Bangkok. Tests showed that most of the earrings contained arsenic and lead in high levels and mercury in medium level. Accessories like bangles and pendants that continuously rub against the skin give off toxic vapours that poison the body. Children sucking or chewing on such items are naturally under more serious risk. Besides causing stunting in children, these heavy metals may also cause kidney failure, cancers of skin, lung and prostate and some other diseases. The study found that seven out of every ten consumers did not know about the risks of using these items. Most of them, about 55%, said some of those items had caused skin rash. Only 15 % of the retailers surveyed were aware of the use of toxic elements in jewellery. In Bangladesh, there are no significant regulations on the use of toxic substances in jewellery. Neither are these covered by the Environment Conservation Act. There is a general law against hazardous substance use in manufacturing. The Bangladesh Environment Act 1995 reads, “Hazardous substance means a substance, the chemical or bio-chemical properties of which are such that its manufacture, storage, discharge or unregulated transportation can be harmful to the Environment.” The study recommended the government to formulate an act banning the import and manufacture of jewellery with toxic substances that may cause harm. Authorities concerned should make a list of stores selling tainted jewellery and act immediately.