Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cadmium in children’s jewelry

A GROUP campaigning for children’s safety from harmful chemicals has
called attention to the latest toxic scare sweeping across the U.S.
today: cadmium, a known carcinogen, in children’s jewelry.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which recently asked the Aquino government to
test toys for toxic chemicals as the Christmas season looms, revealed
that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has so far
issued five recall orders for cadmium-tainted children’s jewelry from
China, prompting policymakers to seek stringent standards.

The California State Senate, for instance, approved a law last August
banning the manufacture, shipment or sale of children’s jewelry
containing more than 0.03 percent cadmium by weight beginning in 2012.

From January to July this year, the CPSC issued recall orders
targeting more than 200,000 “made-in-China” children’s jewelry due to
their high levels of cadmium, warning that “cadmium is toxic if
ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects.”

Among the items recalled were children’s metal necklaces, pendants,
rings, bracelets, earrings and trinkets that were imported from China
and sold in various retail outlets in the U.S.

While cadmium is listed in the revised Priority Chemical List
comprised of 48 chemicals, the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) has yet to issue a chemical control order (CCO) that
will regulate the use of cadmium and cadmium compounds.

The DENR has so far issued only four CCOs for asbestos, cyanide,
mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls.

CCOs are issued to prevent and reduce serious risks to public health,
workplace and the environment from the “priority chemicals.”

According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
(ATSDR), breathing high levels of cadmium can severely damage the
lungs. Eating food or drinking water with very high levels severely
irritates the stomach, leading to vomiting and diarrhea.

Long-term exposure to lower levels of cadmium, the ATSDR said, in air,
food, or water leads to a buildup of cadmium in the kidneys and may
raise the risk of kidney disease. Other long-term effects are lung
damage and fragile bones.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined
that cadmium and cadmium compounds are known human carcinogens.

According to the Europe-based Safe Toys Coalition, children are much
more sensitive to exposure to toxic chemicals than adults.

“Their body systems are still premature and developing. Due to their
different behavior, they have different patterns of exposure, like
putting things in the mouth. They are unaware of risks and unable to
protect their health,” a statement by the Safe Toys Coalition said.

“Even the smallest amounts of hazardous chemicals are sufficient to
harm the development of a child -- sometimes with life-long
consequences. The increasing allergy and cancer rates demonstrate
this,” the Safe Toys Coalition warned.

Considering the above, the national authorities, I hope, will respond
to this newly-recognized threat against children’s health and safety.

Government action against cadmium in children’s jewelry will be in
line with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management
(SAICM) that seeks to “prevent the adverse effects of chemicals on the
health of children and other vulnerable groups and susceptible


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