07/17/2012 03:03 EDT | Updated 09/15/2012 05:12 EDT

California inspectors find jewelry containing dangerous lead levels on the market

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - California is going after more than a dozen businesses accused of selling and distributing cheap jewelry containing high levels of lead.

The state is expected to file a lawsuit Tuesday against 16 companies that sell, make or distribute jewelry in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The action comes after inspectors uncovered hundreds of lead-tainted trinkets marketed to children and adults.

Some jewelry items were contaminated with lead levels more than 1,000 times the legal state limit.

While there have not been documented cases of people sickened by the tainted jewels, the crackdown comes amid growing concerns over toxic metals in children's jewelry because kids often bite and suck on it.

State regulators do not monitor where the jewelry ends up, but believe most of it gets sold in low-income areas.