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New tests of children's jewelry show high levels of cadmium, study finds

March 04, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times
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Cadmium likely isn't the first thing on your mind when you buy a cheap little bracelet or necklace for your child. But maybe it should be. A new study finds that children who wear, mouth or swallow inexpensive  jewelry items could be exposed to high levels of the metal.

Researchers tested charms, bracelets and necklaces, mostly imported from China, to determine the levels of cadmium in each.  "Of 92 pieces of jewelry tested under ingestion conditions, two pieces (a football pendant and a heart charm) yielded more than 20,000 micrograms of cadmium, 100 times the [U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission]-recommended maximum exposure of 200 micrograms through ingestion," says a news release about the study.

"Fourteen samples yielded more than 1,000 micrograms. The researchers found the amount of cadmium released increased linearly, indicating that the longer an item stays in a child’s stomach, the greater the potential for harm." The study was published online Friday in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Ingestion of cadmium can cause kidney, bone, lung and liver disease. This isn't the first time the toxic metal has been linked to items for children. The U.S. safety commission has issued five recalls in the past few years.

Wisconsin offers a helpful fact sheet about cadmium that explains what it is (a soft metal used in industry), how people are exposed to it (contaminated food, smoke) and the potential health effects. Note, however, that it isn't easily absorbed through the skin. But we're talking about kids' jewelry here, and most people probably aren't inclined to take chances.

This isn't to suggest you should start spending big money on jewelry for your kids. Just maybe avoid the shiny items that might be dangerous.

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