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Lead is a toxic substance that can cause brain damage, seizures and death. The California Department of Toxic Substance Control is trying to get the message out that lead can even be found in something that seems harmless like jewelry. Jewelry used in piercings can be especially dangerous.

“Body piercings may be particularly vulnerable to poisoning since lead can enter the bloodstream through the pierced areas,” said Maureen Gorsen, director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control in a written statement.

To get the point across, officials of the department were in Berkeley on Thursday at Zebra Tattoo and Body Piercing Shop to spread the word that jewelry must have less than 10 percent lead as of March 1 and less than 6 percent by Aug. 30, 2009.

Stores found to be selling jewelry with a lead content that exceeds the legal limit will be fined up to $2,500 a day for each piece of jewelry.

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