Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Safe Chewable Jewelry and Unsafe Leaded Jewelry for Children
Chewable Jewelry (no affiliation) is the creation of a US dentist, Helen Bloom Smith, who got the idea from her own twin nephews. The little tykes were grabbing her glass beaded bracelet and necklace to drool and teeth on. Not only was this dangerous but as a dentist she wondered what such hard material would do to developing tooth buds.
Young mothers rarely wear jewelry for those reasons. Yet, why shouldn't they be able to wear something pretty? Some eye-catching bling would surely deflect attention from the bleary eyes from lack of sleep! So Helen's idea for a chewable form of jewelry crystalised into a company which makes food-safe silicone bangles and pendants for trendy mothers to wear and for happy babies to chomp on. The material looks like resin but is identical to the soft material used for baby bottles and teething rings. Every part of the jewelry line is made from FDA approved materials.
The company is developing a miniature (and safe) line for older children for the colourful bangles have proven popular. The pendants could also be attached to backpacks. So I am not surprised to learn that this Chewable Jewelry line has been well received considering the recent scare about lead in some glass like Swarovski crystals, metal beads and toys. Just wearing jewelry with those kinds of beads though will not elevate lead levels in children but remember they do put things in their mouths and could swallow small components.
I was flabbergasted, when I read this CBC .ca news report about a recall of some 1000 pacifiers decorated with Swarovski crystals! The crystals were glued to the pacifier handles and guards. Talk about a double hazard - ingested lead and a risk of choking for baby windpipes are small. The craze for Swarovski crystals on just about everything has gone way over the top. The full recall notice from the US Consumer Product Commission is here.
Ingestion and inhalation are the two main ways, people, not just children get lead into their bodies. That is why leaded gasoline has been phased out. The most common cause of childhood lead poisoning is actually from lead contaminated household dust (deteriorating paint) particularly in older homes. The US and Canada did not phase out lead in paint until the late 1970's. Children under 5-6 are particularly vulnerable - high blood levels of lead are associated with learning disabilities, behavioural and other health problems.
Check the US Centers for Disease Control's pages on Toy Jewelry and Childhood Lead Poisoning and Toys and Childhood Lead Exposure. This CDC page also lists all lead recalls in jewelry and accessories.
If you live in California, and sell your jewelry via physical or online stores, a new law now requires you to declare to customers if any components do contain lead including Swarovski crystals. You can read the full article on Rena Klingenberg's blog.
More questions about lead and human health? Check out Health Canada's excellent FAQ section.
Wikipedia : Lead Poisoning
Health Canada : Lead-based paint
The Beading Gem's Journal