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  • The Latest Child Health & Safety Concern: Cadmium in Toys & Jewelry

    The first headline that caught my attention yesterday morning was about the discovery of cadmium in imported children’s jewelry. It seems that some producers of children’s products in China, seeking a cost-effective replacement for lead, have turned to cadmium – one of the items tested was 91% cadmium by weight.

    According to the Department of Health and Human Services, breathing high levels of cadmium can severely damage the lungs, and long-term exposure to lower levels of cadmium leads to a buildup of cadmium in the kidneys and possible kidney disease. Other long-term effects are lung damage and fragile bones. This news article states that cadmium is “particularly dangerous” for children because their growing bodies readily absorb substances like cadmium, which accumulates in the kidneys for decades. Cadmium exposure may also impair brain development and result in learning disabilities.

    According to the first article I read, cadmium is not regulated as much as lead, so there isn’t any restriction on cadmium contained in jewelry – in other words, the items being investigated are being sold legally. However, parents and caregivers should obviously be aware of the problem and take them away from children. The items listed in this article include:

    Three flip flop bracelet charms sold at Walmart in 2008. According to the article, Walmart would not comment on whether the charms are still on store shelves, or how many have been sold. Walmart said that they’re committed to selling “only those products that meet safety and regulatory standards,” and pointed out that “[c]urrently there is no required cadmium standard for children’s jewelry.” Apparently, the lack of regulation makes it okay to sell cadmium in products aimed at kids. No wonder people hate Walmart’s corporate staff. They could have at least said that they would look into the issue. (Of course, I wouldn’t put it past AP to fail to report that part of the statement.)

    “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” charms from bracelets sold at Dollar N More stores (Rochester, NY).

    “Best Friends” bracelet charms sold at Claire’s. Like Walmart, “Claire’s issued a statement pointing out that children’s jewelry is not required to pass a cadmium leaching test.”

    Pendants from “The Princess and The Frog” necklaces sold at Walmart. AP couldn’t get any useful statements from Disney and in fact, the article appears to have been edited since I first read it and drafted this post.

    It seems from the articles that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which issues the recalls you see me post here at CFO, is now investigating the extent to which cadmium is present in kids’ products and whether it should be more closely regulated.

    In the meantime, speaking solely as a parent and not any kind of an expert, I would suggest removing all “children’s jewelry” from your child. If the CPSC sends me an alert or notice, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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