Parents Guide: Beware of Cadmium!

An Associated Press investigation published Sunday concluded that dangerous levels of cadmium—a known carcinogen which, according to recent research, can hinder brain development in young children—have been found pieces of children’s jewelry imported from China and sold at several U.S. retailers, including Wal-mart, the jewelry chain Claire’s, and at a Dollar N More store.  Some of “The Princess and The Frog” movie-themed pendants have also been shown to contain high levels of cadmium.

According to Ashland University Chemistry chairman Dr. Jeffrey Weidenhamer, who  tested 103 pieces of children’s jewelry and found a whopping 12% toxic, “There’s recent research indicating [exposure to cadmium] can cause learning disabilities or permanent loss of IQ.”

“A Princess and the Frog necklace is among the items that contained high levels of cadmium”

Kids wearing the jewelry can be exposed to the cadmium through sucking or biting the jewelry.

So how could such a damaging toxin end up around your kid’s neck? Apparently, due to a loophole in the law, cadmium is banned in painted toys but not in jewelry. In other words, the sale of cadmium-rich jewelry is legal.

All the same, the response to the AP investigation has been swift. Wal-mart has pulled many of the suspect items from its shelves, as has Claire’s, while federal and state watchdog groups have launched further inquiries. In a taped speech for a toy safety conference in Hong Kong, Inez Tennenbaum, the chairwoman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, asked that manufacturers steer clear of using cadmium, antimony or barium in place of lead in children’s products.

Ironically, toy manufacturers have turned to cadmium as a lead substitute. As many parents remember, many lead-laden toys from China were banned by Congress in 2008. According to reports from the AP, cadmium is “even more harmful” than lead, and with direct exposure, can lead to “cancer, kidneys that leak vital protein and bones that spontaneously snap.”

So what can parents do? While official advice is slow in coming, common sense would dictate getting rid of inexpensive kid’s jewelry made in China (which, according to an AP report, is toxic enough that “if the cadmium-laden jewelry were industrial garbage, it could qualify as hazardous waste). Pieces mentioned specifically include a Princess and the Frog bracelet sold at Wal-Mart, three flip-flop bracelet charms sold at Wal-Mart in 2008, which contained between 84 per cent and 86 per cent cadmium, and two charms on a Best Friends bracelet from Claire’s, which consisted of 89 per cent and 91 per cent cadmium. For parents unsure about their kid’s jewelry, cadmium testing kits can be bought online.