Retailers Target and Walmart have removed children's products including boxing gloves and foam bead jewellery from their stores after independent tests showed they contained above-legal lead limits.

The action comes after research commissioned by the California-based Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found high levels of lead, in violation of federal standards, in five children's products from the retailers. The discovery comes more than two years after federal law established strict limits to protect children from these kinds of lead threats. 

One of the Target toddler chairs contained more than 70 times the legal limit for lead, CEH said, while lead levels ranging from more than 3 times to more than 45 times the legal limit in toddlers' bean bag chairs, youth boxing gloves and toy foam beads sold for children's jewellery at Walmart stores.

The products were purchased between September 11 and September 18 from Bay Area outlets of the two retailers and online from the companies' websites.

CEH also found high lead levels in violation of California's jewellery law in three adult jewellery items purchased in September from Walmart.

Last month, the Consumer Product Safety Commission requested comments on the technical feasibility of lowering the permissible lead levels in children's products from 300 parts per million (ppm) to 100 ppm.

Some industry representatives have argued that lowering the standard would force them to stop making certain children's products.