Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, OH MY! Don’t Let Your Kids Wear Cheap Jewelry!

No one wants to buy expensive jewelry for their children, as they may lose or break these pieces; however, cheap jewelry can “contain dangerous levels of cancer-causing toxic chemicals”. We are NOT talking about the super cheap jewelry here that comes out of a machine, but jewelry found in major retailers.

Time Healthland reports:

The Ecology Center and Healthystuff.org report that 59% of low-cost jewelry sold at stores like Walmart, Kohl’s, Forever 21, H&M, Hot Topic and Target, contained one or more chemicals considered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to be a hazard to human health at high levels.

It’s not just the cheap jewelry designed for kids, but the stuff found in the grown-ups department is also toxic.  Lead, cadmium, and arsenic were the most prevalent toxic chemicals found.  Five years ago, the CPSC  banned lead in children’s jewelry, but is your child strictly limited to wearing jewelry designed for kids?  My ten-year-old daughter typically adorns herself with inexpensive jewelry that is designed for young adults.

Time Healthland continues:

The CPSC says young children should not be exposed to these compounds, since swallowing or sucking on the pieces could increase their exposure and make them vulnerable to health problems..

But young children are the primary target of the inexpensive jewelry studied, and their increasing risk of exposure to these toxic compounds has led consumers to push for stricter laws regulating chemicals in commercial products. In April 2011, Sen. Frank Lautenberg introduced a bill to upgrade the Toxic Substances Control Act, which would increase the testing of commonly used chemicals and better inform the public about potential hazards of the compounds in everyday products. Advocates hope the bill will move to a vote in the Senate this year. Until then, even if your children (or you) are a fan of inexpensive bling, it’s probably a good idea to keep the accessorizing to a minimum.

Honestly, I have purchased jewelry for my daughter at Target.  This worries me.  We don’t frequent the other stores on the list.  Here are specifics from HealthyStuff.org:

Findings

  • 99 pieces of jewelry were tested, from 14 different retailers located in six different states (Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Vermont). Jewelry was purchase in December 2011. Most jewelry purchased was under $10.
  • Samples were purchase from 14 retailers include Ming 99 Cent City, Burlington Coat Factory, Target, Big Lots, Claire’s, Forever 21, Glitter, Walmart, H&M, Meijers, Kohl’s, Justice, Icing and Hot Topic.

Overall Results

  • 57% of products tested were rated as having HIGH level of concern due the presence of one or more hazardous chemical detected at high levels
  • 6% of products tested were rated as having a MEDIUM level of concern due to the detection of one or more hazardous chemicals at medium levels
  • 37% of products tested were rated as having a LOW level of concern due to the detection of one or more hazardous chemicals at low levels

Lead

  • 27 of 99 (27%) of jewelry contained greater than 300 ppm lead in one or more components. 300 ppm is the CPSC limits of lead in children’s products
  • 48 of 99 (49%) of jewelry contained detectable levels of lead

Cadmium

  • 10 of 99 (10%) of jewelry contained greater than 100 ppm cadmium in one or more components
  • 47 of 99 (47%) of jewelry contained detectable levels of cadmium

Other Chemicals*

    • A high percentage of products had concentrations greater thean 100 ppm of the metal allergens chromium (93%) and nickel (30%)
    • 12 of 95 (13%) of jewelry contained greater than 100 ppm arsenic
    • 5 of 95 (5%) of jewelry contained greater than 100 ppm mercury
    • 7 of 95 (7%) of jewelry contained brominate flame retardants (greater than 1,000 ppm bromine)
    • One-third, 11 of 95 (12%) of jewelry contained PVC (greater than 25,000 ppm chlorine)

*Note: Not all products were tested for all chemicals. Four products were only tested for lead and cadmium.

 As concerned parents, how do we respond to such news?  Do we throw out all of our children’s jewels except those we know are 100% pure silver or gold?  I don’t want to overreact, but I also don’t trust the CPSC to do their job. The vastness of it is impossible, even under the best budgetary circumstances.
From this day forward, my children will no longer be able to purchase inexpensive jewelry.  We will be sure family and friends are aware of this restriction at gift giving time.
Image: Target.com (note:  I do not know if this piece of jewelry was tested or contains toxic materials)

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