Chinese Manufacturers Replace Lead With Another Dangerous Metal

Chinese Manufacturers Replace Lead With Another Dangerous Metal

Jewelry (not part of the investigation) - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicasaurusrex/ / CC BY-ND 2.0

With heightened scrutiny being put on the lead content of kids' items in the U.S., manufacturers have had to find replacement materials. Many are turning to zinc, a safer choice, while some are opting to use cadmium, a heavy metal that can cause developmental damage just like lead.

An investigation by the Associated Press tested 103 pieces of kids' jewelry and found that 14 of them, mainly from Chinese manufacturers, contained cadmium, 12 of which contained at least 10 percent cadmium and one of which was 91 percent cadmium by weight.

Although cadmium is the seventh item on the Center for Disease Control's list of most hazardous substances, there are no U.S. restrictions on cadmium content of jewelry similar to the lead and phthalates restrictions imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

The Associated Press investigation took 103 items bought late last year at national and regional chain stores in New York, Ohio, Texas and California, and had them tested by chemistry professor Jeff Weidenhamer of Ashland University.

The tests found:

  • Two charms from a Claire's "Best Friends" bracelet that were made up to 89 and 91 percent cadmium
  • Four charms from two "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" bracelets from a Dollar N More that contained 82-91 percent cadmium
  • Three flip flop bracelet charms from Walmart that contained 84-86 percent cadmium
  • Pendants from "The Princess and The Frog" necklaces from Walmart that contained 25-35 percent cadmium

The Associated Press spoke with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which said that although it has received dozen of reports related to cadmium in recent years, it has not taken any actions related to them due to the sheer number of overall reports it receives on various chemicals each year. The commission is now starting to actively review research and literature on cadmium.

Jewelry (not part of the investigation) - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicasaurusrex/ / CC BY-ND 2.0