Beware all!!! especially people who buy low-cost jewelry from popular fashion chains. New research has found toxic levels of cadmium, a heavy metal that can be particularly toxic for kids. Simply wearing jewelry does not cause harm, but sucking, chewing on or swallowing it can cause many harmful effects to children’s bodies, including death. Also Children’s bodies more readily absorb the toxic metal. Cadmium is a known carcinogen, which can lead to kidney failure, bone loss and other complications in those who are chronically exposed over time.
Jewellery that is painted or has a top coating does not make it safer for children: the coating can be chewed or worn off. Earlier lead was instead of cadmium. One of the big challenges with lead is that it has a sweet taste, which can encourage kids to put it in their mouths. It is inexpensive, so it is made with the cheapest materials available. Also it’s easy to melt so it makes nice heavy pieces of jewelry. Lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury and arsenic among other highly toxic chemicals, can cause health issues like acute allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer.
Children’s jewelry is intended to attract, appeal to a child. In the production of art/children’s jewelry, some manufacturers use lead as a base metal, often combined with tin, since it produces an alloy that is easy to work with as well as easy for shaping. Besides making it look heavy it is also cheap. In the process of manufacturing, lead gets coated on the jewellery. Even short-term exposure to lead may cause long-term adversarial impact on children’s health. Adding to the grave situation, manufacturers coat jewelry items with bright colours to attract children, while most of these colours have organo-metallic compounds and metals in them, loosely bound to the surface, which can leach easily.
This type of jewelry is most often worn by the young, most of them children in the age group between 3 to 16 years, who are very sensitive to lead exposures, since it is a critical time for neurological development. Children (below 6 years) are recognised as the most susceptible to lead exposure even at low levels. Pregnant women are the second most vulnerable group. Lead also crosses the placenta and reaches the developing fetus. Absorbed lead is rapidly taken up by blood and soft tissue, followed by a slower redistribution to bone. Bone accumulates lead during much of the human life span and may serve as an endogenous source of lead that may be released slowly over many years after the exposure stops.
It has also been established medically worldwide, that lead is a potent neurotoxin causing irreversible harms to human health and environment. While lead levels are regulated in children’s toys cadmium is not, though cadmium is toxic just the same. Lead is also found in Antique painted furniture (including cribs), buttons, hair ornaments, Old painted toys, Lead paint on kitchen utensils, Imported painted toys. Also toys made of plastics (both PVC and non PVC), contain lead and cadmium.
Main danger lies because of its advantage of being cheap. Cheapness of fashion jewelry or costume jewelry makes
- These items appeal to those with a small budget.
- These items often fall apart potentially leaving small parts laying around in junk drawers or on the floor to tempt a toddler.
The impact of even the smallest traces of lead on brain development in children includes irreversible learning and developmental problems leading to to lower IQ scores, delayed learning and shorter attention spans. The EPA has listed lead as a probable human carcinogen
You Can learn more about how to detect lead content and its poisoning here.
- Cadmium is classified as a known human carcinogen, associated with lung and prostate cancer
- Cadmium exposure is associated in animal studies with developmental effects, including possible decreases in birth weight, delayed sensory-motor development, hormonal effects, and altered behaviour.
- Exposure to cadmium can result in bone loss and increased blood pressure.
- Acute toxicity from ingestion of high levels of cadmium can result in abdominal pain, nausea, itching and death.
- Acute toxicity from inhalation of high levels of cadmium can result in symptoms similar to metal fume fever and severe gastroenteritis from high levels of cadmium ingestion.
- Cadmium is extremely toxic metal, even dangerous than lead, and very hard to detect using house hold method similar to lead, most popular method to detect Cadmium is X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (XRF).
You Can learn more about cadmium poisoning here.
Lead in jewellery and other products may look different from pure lead, depending on how much lead is in the product. Items that are made with a high percentage of lead are greyish in colour, heavy for their size and may leave a grey mark when rubbed against a piece of white paper if the lead is not coated. There is no way to determine by how it looks whether a piece of jewelry has a high level of cadmium in it. Cadmium stays in the body for a long time so it is best to prevent the exposure of young children to cadmium in jewelry. A blood test is the only accurate way to find out if you or a family member has been exposed to lead and cadmium.
What we can do: –
- Inspect your children’s jewelry. Items made with a high percentage of lead are heavy for their size.
- If you are concerned that a children’s jewelry item may contain lead or cadmium throw it away in your regular household waste.
- Do not give young children adult jewelry to wear or play with; it may contain lead or cadmium.
- Don’t let kids suck or chew on any jewelry.
- If your child has sucked or chewed regularly on jewelry and you think it may contain lead or cadmium, ask your doctor to test your child’s blood.
- A child who swallows jewelry containing lead or cadmium is at high risk of developing serious and potentially life-threatening health effects. Contact an emergency medical service immediately.
- Check for product recalls by contacting the retailer or manufacturer.
- Be choosy about your purchases for birthday parties for your children’s friends. Stay away from cheap jewellery and jewellery making kits unless you can, without a doubt, verify the lead content.
As all know, prevention is better than cure. In case of low-cost jewellery, which might make our outfits look better for a very low price; they might also slowly poisoning us. Therefore some caution is required. The more educated and demanding the public is, the more pressure will be on the manufacturers to adhere to strict standards regarding toxic substances in jewellery and jewellery findings. So be bold, its better late than never….