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Friends of Mel Announce Recall of Jewelry Due to Lead

Foundation Duped By Overseas Supplier

WAKEFIELD, Mass., Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Friends of Mel, a non-profit foundation established to support cancer-fighting research and programs, today announced that it is recalling due to high lead levels the jewelry it distributes to donors who contribute to its cancer-related programs. The Foundation had a written assurance from a foreign supplier that the bracelets did not contain lead. When Friends of Mel recently learned that there may indeed be lead in the bracelets, they took the proactive step of hiring an independent 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 test results show that the beads contain no lead; however the small rings have a high lead content. Therefore, Friends of Mel wanted to notify consumers immediately and institute a recall. The mechanics of the recall are still being put into place, but will involve replacing the jewelry with lead-free product. We ask contributors to accept the replacement instead of a monetary refund 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 Research Professor in the Institute of Environmental Medicine at NYU Medical School. Dr. Jaeger said that the risk to adults from wearing the jewelry is low, but that transmission of lead occurs when the skin touching the jewelry is brought to 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 the jewelry under certain conditions may pose a hazard to children and to a fetus in utero. Caregivers of infants and young children should be warned about the potential risk of hand transfer of lead. The jewelry already carries a warning to keep the products away from children because of the potential for a choking hazard due to small parts."

Pauline Alighieri, Executive Director for Friends of Mel, said "I am heartsick over this situation. We worked long and hard to build our reputation as an upstanding foundation that helps people, and now, thanks to a supplier having lied to us, we are faced with a very difficult situation. We extend our sincere apologies to all those who have purchased our jewelry and we 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 its best to manage this situation by implementing a Plan of Action. In addition to contracting with an outside testing lab and retaining a lead expert, the plan will consist of the following:

-- Establishing a lead free jewelry replacement program.

-- Obtaining lead free jewelry.

-- Posting information on the Foundation's website.

-- Reaching out to all affiliate and partner organizations.

-- Contacting all supporters and consumers whose addresses are on file.

-- Alerting media organizations.

-- Ceasing acceptance of new orders or filling current orders until lead

free jewelry can be obtained.

Alighieri said, "We appreciate everyone's patience and support as we work through this very challenging situation. We hope that friends of MEL will emerge 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 replacement jewelry, we will send it to you and reimburse your postage.

For more consumer information, please visit the Friends of Mel website at:


The Friends of Mel Foundation was created to fund promising and creative projects that impact the care of cancer patients at both grassroots and institutional levels. It was named after Mel Simmons, a spiritual woman of legendary generosity and boundless energy, who lost her life to breast cancer. Throughout her five-year battle, Mel guided and comforted other cancer patients and survivors and the Foundation proudly keeps her work alive. In eighteen months, through the sale of Mel's bracelets, over one million dollars has been donated to the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center for cancer research and education alone. Nearly as much has been donated to other cancer research, education, and support organizations across the nation.

SOURCE Friends of Mel
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