Cadmium in Jewelry: Federal Regulators Failed to Protect Children from Cancer-Causing Metals
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is under fire because many jewelry items manufactured in China and sold in this country contain high levels of the dangerous metal cadmium. The cadmium is dangerous if ingested, as it can remain in the body for years and acts as a carcinogen. Several years ago, high levels of lead were found in jewelry imports from China. Media and public outcry is happening because the federal agency has failed to issue any sort of recall for cadmium-containing jewelry items.
In many cases of cadmium-containing jewelry being purchased, it has come from small businesses selling discount imports. Small time purveyors do not have the funds or equipment to test products they sell for cadmium or lead. Larger corporations, such as Target, Walmart, Meijer, do conduct in-house testing of products and voluntarily recall such items if they find them to contain a level of cadmium considered too high to be safe. Corporations do this to avoid potentially damaging media and public scandals of illness caused by products they have sold consumers. Corporations also have the benefit of knowing where contaminated products have been manufactured and distributed- thereby stopping imports at the source. Small businesses of such trinkets often sell unmarked, unboxed items, making tracking the source of dishonest manufacturers impossible.
Another large problem that stands in the way of the CPSC being an effective stop flow against such dangerous imports is the classification of the use of such items. Children’s products receive much more scrutiny for unsafe materials than do jewelry, which are considered a product made for adult use. The problem lies in businesses marketing the products to children, preteens, and sometimes for use with babies.
Other problems plaguing the CPSC in ability to effectively police jewelry imports is lack of funding, resources, and manpower. The government agency also cites the rules governing enacting a recall as another obstacle against which they cannot effectively act.