Toxic Metals In Children’s
Jewelry And Toys:
Cadmium, A New Find.
There have been numerous recent reports of toxic
metals, especially lead, in toy jewelry, lunch boxes
and other inexpensive consumer items. This has resulted
in recalls of a number of metallic toy jewelry items
by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well
as actions by state government agencies. At least
one child has died as a result of ingestion of a
metallic charm containing lead (Berg et al., 2006).
Now another toxic metal has been found in a metal
bead in a child’s bracelet made in China. This bracelet,
Sassy Chic, was found to contain 227,000 mg/kg cadmium,
which was 22.7% of the weight of this small, round
metal bead that was held by a thin wire in a bracelet
which had a mixture of metal and plastics beads.
This small bead can be easily swallowed by a small
child. It also had significant amounts of several
other toxic metals, including nickel (3,900 mg/kg)
and copper (44,400 mg/kg) and extremely high levels
of zinc (443,000 mg/kg). While the dose of cadmium
that is lethal to humans is not known with certainty,
the CDC (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp5-c2.pdf)
indicates that it is of the order of 25 mg/kg. For
a child weighing 10 kg this would indicate that
as little as 250 gm of cadmium may be fatal.
Cadmium is a human carcinogen, and also causes
liver and kidney disease. This high concentration
of cadmium in a small metal bead that could easily
be swallowed by a small child is of significant
concern. Acute ingestion of cadmium has been reported
to cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea,
which can lead to death (Hung and Chung, 2004).
Later effects and chronic exposure leads to kidney
failure (Wittman and Hu, 2001; Olsson et al., 2002;
Katsnelson et al., 2007), liver dysfunction, bone
damage (Wilson and Bhattacharyya, 1997; Alfven et
al., 2002), lung and prostate cancer (Waalkes and
Rehm, 1994) and neurobehavioral abnormalities (Viaene
et al., 2000). The CDC document listed above also
gives some evidence for birth defects and reproductive
damage, especially in men.
The European Court of Justice has recently established
standards for cadmium concentration in toys (http://www.tdctrade.com/alert/eu0604c.htm).
Information on cadmium toxicity is available from
the EPA IRIS database, which indicates that 25 mg/kg
may be a lethal dose in humans. Additional information
on cadmium can be found in the EPA Technical Factsheet
on Cadmium, available at http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/dwh/t-ioc/cadmium.html
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