Many of you may have already seen lots of articles about the investigative Associated Press report on the shocking amount of cadmium in cheap Chinese made jewelry sold in places like Walmart, Claire's and a dollar store.

Picture source

Cadmium is a naturally occurring heavy metal which is highly toxic - it's worse than lead in many ways. It is carcinogenic and causes serious damage to the kidneys and liver in particular. It accumulates in the body which could build up to really toxic levels. It's just plain nasty. Like lead, there are deleterious effects on young children who swallow or put jewelry in their mouths. They are at risk for learning disabilities and permanent IQ loss.

Why cadmium? It's a cheap alternative to lead which is now not allowed. Made in a country where lax regulatory policing prevails (remember the tainted milk and pet food tragic scandals?), and sold in countries without cadmium testing requirements (for jewelry), this toxic metal has sneaked in under the radar.  The AP investigation tested 103 pieces of jewelry bought from various stores - 12% had at least 10% of cadmium. One piece was a spectacular 91 % cadmium! Check the AP report below to see how the testing was done including the leaching experiments with the charms they bought. The tests also simulate exposure to stomach acids. The reported jewelry findings have been pulled from the stores.

I've never been a fan of jewelry for young children under 5. So this will be a wake up call for parents to think twice before purchasing any jewelry for little kids and especially the cheap stuff. You really get what you pay for. The release of the report was rather ironic in timing though - after Christmas.

Last words :

  • It's a safe bet to say there will be mandatory tests for cadmium in jewelry in the future just as there are now for lead.
  • The publicity will hopefully spur the manufacturers to stop using cadmium in jewelry findings altogether - ir's apparently a fairly common practice for their own domestic market. Chinese consumers need protection too.
  • If you need metal beads which aren't sterling silver, go for zinc which also looks silvery but is not toxic. Lead-free pewter (a tin alloy) is another good option.
  • If you're a metal smith, you might wish to check Charles Lewton-Brain's Metals Safety Information on Ganoskin. Proper ventilation is important because inhaling toxic metals (fumes and dust) is dangerous. Chronic exposure - small amounts over years - is just as bad as one single acute exposure.
  • Smoker? Now might be a good time to consider quitting. Research shows 10% of the cadmium content of a cigarette is inhaled - "tobacco smoking is a major source for cadmium accumulation in man".

AP: Feds probe cadmium in kids' jewelry from China
Consumer Product Safety Commission's Guide for parents
Trinkets in Trash after Cadmium Warning
Wikipedia : Cadmium
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips