What can I say? Being on the frontlines by operating a consumer product testing business, I’ve seen this trend developing. My company, Essco Safety Check, was mentioned along with HealthyStuff.org for providing data to Justin Pritchard, the AP reporter who wrote the article “AP: Feds probe cadmium in kids’ jewelry from China” January 10th, 2010
All indication from our testing data suggests that cadmium appears to be increasing in all consumer products, not just children’s jewelry. We also have seen an increase in antimony, while lead appears to be leveling in children’s products, which is regulated fairly strictly. However, our testing has shown an increase in lead in non-children’s products.
Apparently, the Associated Press conducted their own independent testing of children’s jewelry purchased in New York, Ohio, Texas and California. Their testing was conducted by chemistry professor Jeff Weidenhamer of Ashland University of Ohio, who has worked with the CPSC in the past. The results found cadmium in children’s jewelry at a level of 100,000 PPM (10%) or greater in 12 percent of the 103 items tested. This testing is what is leading the US CPSC to investigate cadmium found in children’s jewelry.
Let me give you some back ground information for you to understand what cadmium is and how it is regulated.
Cadmium is a metal found naturally occurring in the earth’s crust. It does not corrode easily and has many uses, including batteries, pigments, metal castings, and plastics. However, Cadmium is a known carcinogen, plain and simple. It is a potentially harmful toxicant!
Why is it increasing in our consumer products? Fairly simply in my opinion, lead is now a fairly well regulated metal and manufacturers are substituting a metal (cadmium) that is readily available, has limited regulations and is inexpensive.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) does include cadmium in their regulations, as well as other elements, like lead. However, the regulations for lead include total content and soluble content. Cadmium only has a soluble content regulation and that portion of the regulation (soluble content ASTM-F963) is currently under a stay for the general certificate of conformity and third-party approved testing.
Consumer products are still required to be safe from the regulated metals, but the testing standards and certification process is on a little delay.
What does this mean? In my opinion, Washington State had it right when they wrote their children’s product safety act of 2008. This act regulated both lead and cadmium in total content.
Additional, this is also another reason, in my opinion, to utilize X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzers and how they can impact the CPSIA and help people and businesses know what is in their environment. In one quick push of a button, of course with some proper training, you can non-destructively test for lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and other elements. XRF analyzers are mobile, cost effective, efficient and accurate machines to identify a variety of heavy metals.
One quick note…just because an item such as children’s jewelry may have a harmful metal such as lead or cadmium does not mean that that item will harm anyone. But if that item does have lead or cadmium, it may be harmful and you should understand what is in your environment to mitigate harm.