Congress Looking at Cadmium in Children’s Toys

The massive recall of 12 million Shrek drinking glasses tainted with the toxic metal, <"">cadmium, have prompted an investigation by Congress into the toxic heavy metal and is presence in consumer products.

The McDonald’s recall of some 12 million promotional Shrek drinking glasses has prompted a congressional investigation into the pervasiveness of cadmium in products geared to children, said the CS Monitor. Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to McDonald’s last week asking officials there to advise the steps it takes to make sure its products are free of hazardous metals, said the CS Monitor. According to the letter, said the CS Monitor, the Committee asked for all documents concerning the recent recall.

Representative Waxman also wrote to ARC International North America Inc., located in Millville, New Jersey, said the CS Monitor; the recalled Shrek glasses were manufactured by ARC International. The glasses were produced in four versions with characters from the movie “Shrek Forever After; cadmium was found on the glasses’ exterior paint enamel, said the CS Monitor.

Cadmium is a known carcinogen and can interfere with brain development in very young children. Long-term exposure to cadmium can lead to bone softening and kidney failure. On the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), cadmium is an extremely toxic metal that, due to its low permissible exposure limit (PEL), enables overexposure to occur even in situations in which trace cadmium quantities are found.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said that the recalled “Shrek Forever After 3D” collectable drinking glasses were distributed by McDonald’s Corp., Oakbrook, Illinois. To date, no incidents or injuries have been reported; however, it is important to note that exposure to toxins are not always immediately recognized. The “Shrek Forever After 3D” collectable drinking glass are 16-ounce glasses that came in four designs—Shrek, Fiona, Puss n’ Boots, and Donkey—and sold for about $2 exclusively at McDonald’s restaurants nationwide from May 2010 into June 2010.

The Associated Press (AP) wrote that in this case, the danger involves long-term exposure to low cadmium levels via paint leaching into the child’s hand and then reaching the body via the child’s mouth. It is the paint’s pigment—cadmium can be used to make reds and yellows—in which the glasses are cadmium tainted, said Bill Whitman, McDonald’s USA spokesman previously.

Cadmium has been showing up in a wide variety of children’s products, specifically children’s jewelry items this year.

“A very small amount of cadmium can come to the surface of the glass, and in order to be as protective as possible of children, CPSC and McDonald’s worked together on this recall,” said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson, quoted the AP. Wolfson did not provide information on the amounts of cadmium that leached from the glasses during tests, but did say the recalled glasses contain “far less cadmium than the children’s metal jewelry that CPSC has previously recalled,” according to the AP.

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