Jan 12 2010 UPDATE –Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has announced that it is pulling children's jewelry from its shelves following an AP investigation that found high levels of cadmium in certain Chinese imports.
The study found that Chinese manufacturers were using cadmium, a soft, whitish metal, to replace lead. However, like lead, it can hinder brain development in the very young. The metal is also known to cause cancer.
The chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission has urged other countries to make sure that manufacturers don't substitute cadmium, antimony, or barium for lead in children's products. The commission also said it was opening an investigation into the AP's findings, vowing to "take action as quickly as possible to protect the safety of children."
Jan 12 2010 ORIGINAL ALERT –An Associated Press (AP) study found that Chinese manufacturers have been using the dangerous heavy metal cadmium in children's jewelry sold throughout the country. Cadmium is a known carcinogen, and like lead, which has been banned from use in jewelry, it can hinder brain development in young children and cause cancer.
The AP organized lab testing of over 100 items purchased in major cities across the nation and found that 12 percent of the jewelry contained at least 10 percent cadmium. The most contaminated piece of jewelry contained 91 percent cadmium by weight. Kids don't have to swallow an item to be exposed – persistent biting or sucking on a piece of jewelry is enough for exposure. Furthermore, many of the items easily shed the metal, which poses an additional safety risk.
Some of the contaminated jewelry to receive the most troubling results were bracelet charms sold at Wal-Mart, the jewelry chain Claire's, and at a dollar store. The following are specific results found in the study:
The AP reported that if the products were painted toys, they would face a recall, and if they were garbage, they would be considered hazardous waste. But because there are no cadmium restrictions on jewelry, such items are sold legally.