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AP Investigation: Toxic Cadmium In Children's Jewelry From China

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, January 11, 2010 10:55 AM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Lead, Cadmium, CDC, CPSC, Children's Health

Kiddie bling from China coated with Cadmium- a cheaper substitute to lead.

Kiddie Bling from China

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IMAGE SOURCE: Kiddie Bling/ N Y Daily News Web Site

An Associated Press investigation finds some Chinese manufacturers have substituted lead in children’s jewelry for the more dangerous heavy metal, cadmium.

AP performed lab tests and found up to 91 percent cadmium in the most contaminated piece. Other shiny trinkets, purchased nationally at retail chains, weighed in at 84 to 89 percent cadmium.

Cadmium is a known carcinogen that can easily shed onto the hands of users, raising additional concern about a child's cumulative exposure.

The AP purchased 103 items in all from stores in New York, Ohio, Texas, and California between November and December. In all, 12 percent of the pieces of jewelry contained at least 10 percent cadmium.

One of the worst offenders was a contaminated bracelet charm sold at Wal-Mart, Claire’s, and the dollar stores.

“There’s nothing positive that you can say about this metal. It’s a poison,” said Bruce A. Fowler with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who is a cadmium specialist and toxicologist, reports AP.

Part of the problem – federal oversight does not extend to cadmium on jewelry, as it does to lead on painted toys.

Cadmium appears on the CDC priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment ranking in at No. 7.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSSC) has never cracked down on an item for cadmium as it has on lead that is now heavily regulated under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Chinese distributors may be looking for a cheaper lead substitute and the AP reports that cadmium prices have plummeted.

AP used chemistry professor Jeff Weidenhamer of Ashland University in Ohio to test the cadmium content. For years he has provided the CPSC with assessments of lead content in products.

The worst offenders include:

  • Three flip flop bracelet charms sold at Wal-Mart – 84 to 86 percent cadmium. The company that imported them Sulyn Industries says the charms were subject to lead testing not cadmium.

  • Four charms from two “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” bracelets sold at Dollar N More store in Rochester, NY – 82 to 91 percent cadmium.

  • Two charms on a “Best Friends” bracelet bought at Claire’s – 89 to 91 percent cadmium.

  • Pendants from four “The Princess and The Frog” necklaces purchased at Wal-Mart – ranged between 25 to 35 percent cadmium.


Consumers Can check with nonprofit groups that monitor the safety of children’s toys and the CPSC for any children’s products that have been recalled. #


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