Cadmium in Children’s Jewelry

By Kristie Turck •  Published 01/12/10 •  2 min read

A few friends have mentioned this recent news to me and I’ve been meaning to talk about it here for a while. Children’s jewelry tends to pop up often in CPSC’s recall notices quite a bit due to lead. But now in the news is cadmium in childrens jewelry. Let’s talk about cadmium. Cadmium is a soft blueish-white metal that occurs naturally in certain soil and is used many times in rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, but also is used in pigments, electroplating to prevent corrosion on metal and as a stabilizer in plastic. Why is it a concern? Cadmium is highly toxic and carcinogenic (causes cancer).

So why is it in childrens jewelry? Good question. A while back the CPSC came down on jewelry manufacturers for using lead in children’s jewelry so those manufacturers looked for an alternative. That alternative was cadmium.  Its cheap and easy to work with, but is just as if not more toxic and dangerous to kids than lead.

Children can be exposed by sucking or biting such jewelry. But without direct exposure, most people do not experience its worst effects: cancer, kidneys that leak vital protein and bones that spontaneously snap.

The worrisome results came in tests of bracelet charms sold at Walmart, at the jewelry chain Claire’s and at a Dollar N More store. High amounts of cadmium also were detected in “The Princess and The Frog” movie-themed pendants.

Eighty-nine items were free of cadmium.

I hate to say it but I would avoid metal kids jewelry if at all possible (costume jewelry, charms, pendants, etc) – especially if your child tends to put stuff in their mouths.  They pop up in the recall notices constantly, are cheaply made in usually China, and yes the little girls love it but surely there are safer choices out there until regulators can get a grip on this market of items.

Read about the whole ordeal here.  Also, Walmart has pulled some of the offending jewelry off their shelves but who knows how much of it was already sold to unknowing customers.