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Monday, April 4, 2016

Spring brings Easter candy, bunnies, eggs, and heavy metals

Researchers at the Washington State Dept of Ecology looked for heavy metals in children's jewelry. They looked for cadmium, lead, antimony, arsenic, cobalt, mercury, and molybdenum. Lead can be absorbed through the skin although the more common route of exposure is ingestion. But lead causes irreversible brain damage.

Washington law restricts cadmium levels to 40ppm and lead levels to 90ppm. Manufacturers also must inform Washington state if any product contains these metals. Children's products that contain cadmium and lead are also regulated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.  159 products were broken down into 893 components. A broad range of jewelry products were purchased.

All samples contained at least one of the heavy metals.

Percent of items that contained a heavy metal:
  • Antimony: 47%. 
  • Arsenic: 39%. 
  • Cadmium: 68%. Results ranged from < 1ppm to 984,000ppm. One dress necklace was 98.4% cadmium.
  • Cobalt: 76%.
  • Lead: 97%. Some items contained 10.7% lead.
  • Mercury: 29%. 
  • Molybdenum: 61%.

There are 2 major problems here:
  • Manufacturers are breaking the law. 
  • Law enforcement is not enforcing the law. 

Sekerak, Sam. Cadmium and other metals in children's jewelry. Washington State Dept of Ecology. 2015. Link to PDF.

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