The journal Environmental Health Perspectives has published a study showing alarming levels of the toxic metal cadmium in play jewelry marketed towards children.
Jeff Weidenhamer was the lead author for the new cadmium study. Weidenhamer and colleagues at Ashland University tested 92 pieces of play jewelry, all of which were marketed towards young children. Most of the pieces were imported from China and other overseas countries.
Test results showed that two of the jewelry pieces had 100 times the current recommended limit for cadmium if a child swallowed or chewed on them. Other pieces had similarly high amounts of cadmium. Jewelry that had been damaged in some way had increased cadmium exposure.
Cadmium was used to create the jewelry because it is very shiny and a relatively cheap metal. As limits on lead exposure have tightened, manufacturers have turned to cadmium as an alternative material.
Weidenhamer says that cadmium presents a significant risk for children. The metal accumulates in the body, and its exposure symptoms mimc the flu. Children are at a higher risk because of their developing bodies.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued five recalls of play jewelry in recent years because of the risk of cadmium.