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High levels of cadmium found in jewelry for children

Thursday, May 05, 2011 by: Megan Heimer J.D.
Tags: cadmium, jewelry, health news

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(NewsTarget) Cigarette smoke isn't the only substance exposing children to toxic levels of cadmium these days. In fact, cadmium is currently used as a replacement for lead in inexpensive children's jewelry sold in the United States and a new study shows that children who wear, mouth, or accidentally swallow this type of jewelry are exposed to potentially dangerous amounts.

The study, soon to be published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, tested 612 samples of imported jewelry, all under $12 and purchased in the United States since 2006. Samples were tested in a saline solution to approximate how much cadmium is released upon mouthing the item, while other samples were placed in a hydrochloric acid solution to simulate the conditions of the stomach upon swallowing. The results showed that substantial amounts of cadmium were released when mouthed or swallowed. In fact, the amount of cadmium leached by many jewelry items exceeded the US Consumer and Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) proposed limits by more than 100 times.

The high toxicity of cadmium is well-known and it is listed as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and National Toxicology Program. Furthermore, cadmium is a metal that accumulates in various parts of the body and exposure has been linked to a wide variety of health issues including pancreatic, lung, prostate, and bladder cancers, gene mutation, kidney disease, bronchitis, fragile bones, headaches, convulsions, and death.

Between the years 2000 and 2005 more than 20,000 emergency room visits were attributed to children, largely under the age of seven, who swallowed inexpensive jewelry. In 2010 cadmium became a public concern when an investigation showed that several children's jewelry items from popular large chain stores contained as much as 91 percent of this toxic metal by weight. Five recalls of cadmium containing jewelry were issued by the CPSC; but, despite the vast amount of research on the dangers and high toxicity of cadmium, the U.S. has no regulations regarding the cadmium content of children's jewelry. Thus, parents are urged to take away all inexpensive jewelry from their children because of the potential health risks.


Weidenhamer JD, Miller J, Guinn D, Pearson J, 2011 Bioavailability of Cadmium in Inexpensive Jewelry. Environ Health Perspect doi:10.1289/ehp.1003011

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention

Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Cadmium Carcinogenesis. Toxicology, Volume 192, Issues 2-3, 5 November 2003, Pages 95-117

National Library of Medicine - Tox Town


About the author

Megan Heimer is a lawyer, natural health therapist, registered yoga teacher, has a bachelor's degree in political science, and will soon complete her doctorate in naturopathic medicine. She has extensive knowledge in holistic nutrition, natural health, and alternative medicine. Megan is currently conducting research on various natural health topics, writing a book, and counsels clients in natural healing all over the world.
Check out her blogs at: www.megansmind-holisticwellness.blogspot.com and measrevolution.wordpress.com

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