Study: Cadmium in Jewelry Still a Problem

Inexpensive
jewelry containing cadmium may be exposing children to as much as 100 times the
recommended maximum exposure limit for the toxic metal, according to a new
study conducted by Ashland University chemistry professor Dr. Jeffrey
Weidenhamer.

The
study tested 69 cadmium-laden jewelry items purchased in 2009 and 2010—mostly
charms and necklace pendants selling for under $5, many labeled for children
and imported from China.

Of
the 92 pieces of jewelry tested under ingestion conditions, two pieces (a
football pendant and a heart charm) yielded more than 20,000 micrograms of
cadmium, 100 times the CPSC-recommended maximum exposure of 200 micrograms
through ingestion. Fourteen samples yielded more than 1,000 micrograms.

Of
34 pieces of jewelry tested under mouthing conditions, one piece (a football
pendant) yielded 2,109 micrograms of cadmium—more than 100 times the
CPSC-recommended limit of 18 micrograms for maximum exposure through mouthing.
Eight other pieces exceeded the 18-microgram limit

Cadmium
can cause kidney, bone, lung, and liver disease.  Health effects typically
result from chronic, long-term exposure.

“Our
hope is that potential hazards of cadmium-laden jewelry will be taken
seriously,” Weidenhamer said in statement.  “The amounts of
cadmium obtained from [some] items were extraordinarily high and clearly
dangerous if these items were mouthed or swallowed by children.”

In
testing done for an Associated Press investigative report, Weidenhamer found
high concentrations of the metal in inexpensive jewelry imported to the U.S.
from China. After multiple recalls of children’s jewelry, the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission issued recommended limits on how much cadmium can be
leached out of the jewelry.

The
article “Bioavailability of Cadmium in Inexpensive Jewelry” is available March
4 free of charge here.

Minnesota and California have already outlawed cadmium in
children’s jewelry. MJSA’s guidelines for cadmium in jewelry can be seen here.

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