The Consumer Product Safety Commission has approved new voluntary limits on cadmium levels in children’s jewelry. A move to regulate cadmium began in 2010 after a recall of bracelets and pendants at Wal-Mart stores. The new standards represent a national consensus among manufacturers and importers of children’s jewelry as to the need to address the toxic metal. A series of mandatory limits has already developed through state regulation and litigation, but this new standard represents the first national standard.
Cadmium is a metal element that occurs as a byproduct of various industrial processes. For years cadmium was used in steel and plastic production and as a pigment, but use has declined considerably. It is still used in some batteries and solar panels. Cadmium exposure has been linked to a number of health problems, including flu-like symptoms, acute kidney problems, pulmonary emphysema, bone disease, and possibly cancer. Dangerous exposure can occur even with trace amounts of cadmium.
Wal-Mart stores recalled children’s bracelets and pendants from their stores in January 2010 due to concerns that they might contain cadmium. Children could receive dangerous doses of cadmium if the jewelry were placed in a child’s mouth, even without actually swallowing the product. Some Chinese companies use cadmium in jewelry production because of prohibitions on using lead. An American company, Tween Brands, reached a settlement in California in March 2011 in which it has agreed to eliminate cadmium from all of its products by January 2012. The settlement agreement only applies to the state of California. Different standards among U.S. states may have led to repeated and inconsistent testing of products, which has led to the current push for national standards.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an independent federal agency that addresses risks in consumer products, will review the new safety standards to see if further recalls are necessary. The CPSC has authority to regulate over 15,000 consumer products, including children’s jewelry. It researches potential hazards and can issue recalls or ban products based on its findings. The agency’s Chairman, Inez M. Tenenbaum, issued a statement on September 6, 2011 regarding the decision to regulate cadmium in children’s jewelry, stating “Since January of 2010, I have been abundantly clear with manufacturers, importers, and distributors of children’s products that I would not allow cadmium to replace lead as the next children’s product safety scare for parents.” New regulations and limits on cadmium should help prevent unnecessary injury and illness and give those who suffer injury further rights to recover damages.
The Washington DC products liability lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen represent people who have been injured due to exposure to toxic materials in consumer products. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, contact the firm today.
Statement of Chairman Inez M. Tenenbaum on the Commission Decision to Grant the Petition Requesting Regulation of Cadmium in Children’s Jewelry unless Action is Taken Expeditiously by the ASTM Voluntary Standards Subcommittees (PDF), U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, September 6, 2011
CPSC Staff Report on Lead and Cadmium in Children’s Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Products (PDF), U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, November 21, 1997
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission homepage
Cadmium Information Page, Occupational Safety & Health Administration
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