Troubling AP Report says Chinese manufacturers are substituting dangerous levels of cadmium in place of lead in toys.
A disturbing Associated Press report revealed some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting cadmium in place of lead to meet U.S. regulations now in place against lead in toys. Yesterday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission opened a formal investigation into Chinese-made children's jewelry that lab tests showed was laden with the heavy metal cadmium and promised to "take action as quickly as possible to protect the safety of children." Cadmium, which is known to cause cancer and even more toxic than lead, is a soft, whitish metal that occurs naturally in soil and is used in some rechargeable batteries, electroplating and plastics. The price of cadmium has plummeted in recent years.
"There's nothing positive that you can say about this metal. It's a poison," said Bruce A. Fowler, a cadmium specialist and toxicologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On the agency's priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7.
The Associated Press conducted lab testing of 103 inexpensive charm bracelets and pendants imported from China that were purchased at national and retail stores (including Wal-Mart, Claire's, and a dollar store chain) across the U.S. in New York, Ohio, Texas, and California in late 2009. The results showed that at least 12% of the jewelry contained at least 10% cadmium, and the most contaminated piece contained 91% cadmium, and others contained more than 80%. High amounts of cadmium also were detected in "The Princess and The Frog" movie-themed pendants. Some of the items easily shed the cadmium.
Lawmakers have expressed outrage at this new turn of events and many plan to propose legislation in their states since there are no cadmium restrictions on jewelry. Retailers including Wal-Mart say they plan to take swift action and pull certain products from store shelves after reviewing the disturbing AP findings. Since there are no cadmium restrictions on jewelry, such items are sold in the U.S. legally. The federal government has never recalled an item for cadmium, though reports indicate that the CPSC has cited "an upward trend" in reports of products containing cadmium. No doubt this is going to reignite the controversy over dangerous exports from China and highlight the significant need for government regulation on imported products.