Lead bans prompted many Chinese manufacturers to switch to the equally toxic heavy metal, <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">cadmium, in products they import to the United States. A known carcinogen, cadmium interferes with brain development in very young children; cadmiumâ€™s longer-term effects are not always immediately evident. Now, as part of a recent settlement, Tween Brands Inc., a nationwide jewelry seller, will eliminate the dangerous metal from its jewelry items, said the Associated Press (AP).
Although meant for jewelry sold in California, because of market size, the limits become Tween policy nationwide, noted the AP. The agreement involves jewelry marketed to children, teenagers, and adults, a broadening of the preteen demographic who were a key concern when the cadmium wave hit last year, said the AP.
The federal government has long been concerned about toxic metals, which could be ingested by children who then put their hands in their mouths. As regulations regarding lead have strengthened, cadmium has shown up in a wide variety of childrenâ€™s products, specifically jewelry. On the U.S. Centers for Disease Controlâ€™s (CDC) priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7.
Last summer, Tween issued a large recall of some 137,000 pieces of jewelry made in China over unspecified, but high, cadmium levels, said the AP; test results have not been released. About five other jewelry recalls, initiated over high cadmium levels, and prompted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) were for items with over 90-percent cadmium, said the AP, citing laboratory testing it commissioned.
The agreement states that, effective January 2012, Tween could be fined for selling jewelry composed of more than 0.03-percent cadmium, said the AP. This level is indicative that cadmium was not intentionally added, noted the AP, which said that a state judge must approve the settlement; not considered an issue. The level is part of a limit put into effect last year with a law passed in California; however, the level only applies to jewelry intended for children age six and under, said the AP, which noted that the law, and laws in three other states, was put in place following an its probe into manufacturers substituting lead for cadmium.
The Center for Environmental Health brought the case against Tween. According to the AP, the Center typically uses Californiaâ€™s Proposition 65 to compel firms to minimize dangerous components in consumer products. The Center is looking for this move to become the model for some 39 other firms that sell or provide jewelry and against which it filed actions concerning cadmium in recent months, said the AP.
Recently, Science Daily wrote that children mouthing or swallowing jewelry containing cadmium could be exposed to as much as 100 times the recommended maximum exposure limit for the dangerous metal, citing research published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). The study measured bioavailability, the amount of cadmium that leached out of the jewelry, and found that damaged pieces could leach up to 30 times more cadmium.
Cadmium can lead to kidney, bone, lung, and liver disease, with contamination of the dangerous heavy metal presenting global health concerns. Efforts to regulate cadmiumâ€™s use and disposal are being conducted by agencies globally, including the World Health Organization (WHO).