As government agencies expand their investigations into cadmium levels in children’s jewelry, industry trade associations are urging state lawmakers and federal agencies to adopt safety standards similar to those in toys.
The Consumer Products Safety Council (CPSC) has issued three recalls on children’s jewelry made in China that was found to have high cadmium levels. Some states are examining regulating cadmium levels in jewelry making as a result. Since cadmium is commonly used in trace amounts in jewelry, handbag and belt hardware manufacturing, industry associations want to make sure any regulations governing cadmium in jewelry to be in line with international safety standards already in place for cadmium content in children’s toys.
Both the Attleboro Falls, MA-based Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) and the North Kingston, RI-based Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association (FJATA) have been lobbying the CPSC to adopt standards already used in toys.
The CPSC issued a voluntary recall on Monday, involving 19,000 “Best Friends” charm bracelet sets made in China by Dae Yeon Industries Corp., and sold at Claire’s Boutiques. The CPSC reported that the charms attached to the bracelets contain high levels of cadmium, which is toxic if ingested by children. The bracelets were sold exclusively at Claire’s from February 2009 through January 2010.
In addition, CPSC has stated that its investigation into cadmium in children’s jewelry has grown more serious, and that the agency has expanded its surveillance and detection program at 10 of the nation’s largest ports. Inspectors are now screening children’s jewelry for cadmium, using special guns that shoot X-rays into jewelry to estimate how much cadmium each item might contain.
FJATA established a special task force earlier this year to address concerns about cadmium in jewelry. In response to the latest recall, Michael Gale, executive director, reiterates FJATA’s point of view: “If there are isolated cases where a potential concern exists, the CPCS should follow established processes to address the issue such as the toy safety standards in the United States (ASTM F-963) and Europe (EN 71-3) which address potential exposure to certain substances, including cadmium, by adopting migration limits.”
MJSA also submitted written recommendations to the CPSC in late April after researching the most reliable standards and testing that American suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers could use to screen for cadmium in jewelry.
“Our research shows that the most widely used and accepted test to best protect children from the harmful elements they might ingest by sucking or by sucking or chewing on metal jewelry is contained in European Toy Safety Standard EN 71-3,” says David W. Cohran, MJSA president and ceo.
EN 71-3’s testing protocol measures the amount that a heavy metal, such as cadmium, can “migrate” or leach out of a sample of jewelry over a two-hour period, when the sample is ground up and immersed in a solution that simulates digestive acid. Because children’s exposure to cadmium usually occurs when they suck, chew, or swallow metal jewelry, EN 71-3 comes closest to replicating these conditions, MJSA reports. The standard dictates that no more than 75 parts per million (ppm) of cadmium is allowed to migrate from a sample of jewelry in order to pass the test.
MJSA also stressed in its written recommendations to the CPSC that in a global industry, conformance by all countries with one standard simplifies and streamlines compliance, reducing costs. For further information about MJSA’s efforts, view mjsa.org.
State Legislatures Consider Regulations
In the United States, the same migration test and cadmium limits established by EN 71-3 are included in a standard developed for children’s toys by the American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM F-963. Several states with bills restricting cadmium in children’s jewelry have referenced the ASTM test and its limit of 75 ppm of cadmium. Illinois, for example, has just passed The Cadmium-Safe Kids Act, which calls for testing to the ASTM standard and limits.
Recently Wal-Mart, which also participated in a voluntary recall of children’s jewelry earlier this year, has said it already adopted EN 71-3 protocols to screen for cadmium in children’s jewelry.
FJATA’s Gale added that safe levels of cadmium has existed in fashion and fine jewelry “for decades without attracting attention likely because there are no reported adverse health effects in either children or adults from its presence.”
“There are no reports of adverse health effects associated with exposure—including accidental ingestion—from either toys or jewelry that meet ASTM F-963 or EN 71-3 standards,” Gale points out. For further information about FJATA’s task force, contact FJATA.org