Senators Introduce Children's Jewelry Legislation
February 9, 2010
Several prominent lawmakers are trying to stop the use of cadmium in children's jewelry, following reports that Chinese manufacturers are liberally substituting the dangerous metal in place of safer alternatives, like zinc. The legislation, called the Safe Kid's Jewelry Act, would ban cadmium, barium and antimony from jewelry marketed to children ages 12 and under. "It is shocking and unacceptable that Chinese manufacturers are putting a deadly toxic metal that threatens our children's health into jewelry and trinkets," said Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the bill's authors. "It makes your blood boil. This has to end, and end now."
Cadmium, in particular, has been more closely scrutinized since last month, when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released details of its investigation into the metal's use in Asia. It's believed some Chinese manufacturers are using cadmium as a replacement for lead, which the CPSC has banned in children's jewelry. "We don't use cadmium simply because of the production dangers," says Mario Herrera, president of Jarco (asi/63160). "At high temperatures, cadmium produces toxic fumes. I think this would be a good law. There's no need to take shortcuts."
Last month, the CPSC announced a voluntary recall of 55,000 children's necklaces made in China, sold exclusively at Wal-Mart stores. According to the CSPC, the necklaces contain high levels of cadmium. "Do not allow young children to be given or to play with cheap metal jewelry, especially when they are unsupervised," warned Inez Tenenbaum, CPSC chairman. "To prevent young children from possibly being exposed to lead, cadmium or any other hazardous heavy metal, take the jewelry away."
Various studies have shown that direct exposure to cadmium can lead to kidney disease, developmental problems and even cancer. Exposure to barium and antimony can cause liver, lung and heart problems. Manufacturers say there are several available alternatives to cadmium that should be used to make children's jewelry. "There's always a solution," says David Pisarevsky, vice president of supplier CNIJ (asi/43008). "You can use lead-free pewter or stainless steel is very good. Zinc is also safe, but it can be a bit limited and harder to work with."