September 7, 2010
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
California State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, urges you to sign SB 929, which bans the manufacture, distribution or sale of jewelry for children under age 7 that contains more than 0.03 percent by weight of the extremely toxic metal, cadmium. Like lead, cadmium is sometimes found in cheap children’s jewelry, particularly in products made in China. While long-term exposure to cadmium, even at low levels, can be hazardous to adults and children alike—it’s linked to kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, and cancer—children’s cadmium exposure can cause developmental problems, as well. Especially disturbing is research that suggests that children may absorb cadmium at higher rates than adults do.
In the October 2010 issue of Consumer Reports, more than 30 children’s and household products were tested for both lead and cadmium, and unacceptable levels of both were found. Consumers Union has urged the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish limits for cadmium in products intended for children. But in the absence of clear federal cadmium standards, California should be a leader in banning the use of cadmium in cheap metal jewelry for children, as the toxic metal rubs off on kids’ hands and can be ingested when they put jewelry in their mouths.
An Associated Press investigation published earlier this year found that some children’s jewelry was made almost entirely of the heavy metal, and that some Chinese manufacturers have been using cadmium as a substitute for lead. Last year, the federal government placed limits on lead in children’s products to no more than 300 parts per million (ppm). As part of mandatory toy safety standards, cadmium used in surface coating should not exceed 75 ppm if soluble in acid. No such limits are in place for cadmium in children’s jewelry.
CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum says her agency is making efforts to stop the replacement of lead with cadmium in children’s products imported from China. Walmart and some other retailers have recently pulled from store shelves the products identified in the Associated Press investigation. In the meantime, Tenenbaum has this to say to parents and caregivers:
The key message that I want parents to know is: We will act to protect young children—but take the metal jewelry away from children who will swallow, suck or chew on it while our work continues. Do not allow young children to be given or to play with cheap metal jewelry, especially when they are unsupervised.
A ban on cadmium in cheap children’s jewelry could not be timelier or more needed to protect children from the undisputed developmental and other dangers of such exposure. We urge you to sign SB 929 into law, and we thank you in advance for your leadership.
Elisa Odabashian, Director
West Coast Office
Cc: Senator Fran Pavley