LOS ANGELES - Wal-Mart said yesterday it is pulling an entire line of Miley Cyrus-brand necklaces and bracelets from its shelves after tests performed for The Associated Press found the jewelry contained high levels of the toxic metal cadmium.

In a statement issued three hours after AP's initial report of its findings, Wal-Mart said it would remove the jewelry, made exclusively for the world's largest retailer, while it investigates. The statement was issued along with Cyrus and Max Azria, the designer who developed the jewelry for the 17-year-old "Hannah Montana" star.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had learned of cadmium in the Miley Cyrus jewelry, as well as in an unrelated line of bracelet charms, back in February, based on an earlier round of tests by a chemistry professor, but had continued selling the items.

It said as recently as last month that it would be too difficult to test products already on its shelves.

In its statement, Wal-Mart did not say whether it would also remove the bracelet charms.

Long-term exposure to cadmium can lead to bone softening and kidney failure. It is also a known carcinogen, and research suggests that it can, like lead, hinder brain development in the very young.

Cadmium in jewelry is not known to be dangerous if the items are simply worn.

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Concerns come when youngsters bite or suck on the jewelry, as many children are apt to do.

- AP