Beware: Some Heart-Shaped Pendants May Bring Not Romance, But Toxic Harm

Bracelet charms and pendants in the shape of a heart, the
popular symbol of love and romance found in almost all Valentine’s gifts, may
spell serious trouble for the people you care for.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watchdog tracking toxins in
consumer products, shared this observation after detecting  huge quantities of cadmium and lead in some low-cost
bracelets for adolescents and adults with heart-fashioned metal pendants. 
The group’s latest probe was prompted by Sweden’s withdrawal from the market of
17 types of imported jewelry this January for violating the European Union’s
limits for cadmium and lead in jewelry at 0.01 percent and 0.05 percent by
weight, respectively.
According to published notifications, “cadmium is classified as harmful if
swallowed, if inhaled or if in contact with the skin” and that “lead is harmful
to human health and hazardous to the environment.”
Cadmium and lead may be present in jewelry as part of metal alloys, as solder,
or as pigment or stabilizer in non-metal components.
Out of 12 types of bracelets obtained from fashion jewelry vendors in Divisoria
and Quiapo from P40 to P150 each, eight were found to contain cadmium in the
range of 15% to 32%, and lead from 3.5% to 36%.
The group used a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device to screen the samples for
toxic metals.
“Cadmium and lead were detected mostly on the heart-shaped pendants that are
small enough for young children to swallow by mistake,” said Thony Dizon,
Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. 
“For example, the pendant with the highest lead content is about the size of
the M&M chocolate candies,” he said. 
“While the jewelry samples were not made for young children, it’s possible for
these attractive articles or their components to land on children’s curious
hands.  Cadmium and lead can enter their
developing bodies when they place their hands or objects in their mouths,” he

Jewelry laden with cadmium and/or lead poses
a real safety issue, especially if chewed, sucked or swallowed by young
children, which can result in the absorption of dangerous levels of cadmium or
lead, Dizon pointed out.
He cited the case of four-year old
Jarnell Brown from Minnesota, USA who passed away in 2006 few days after
swallowing by accident a heart-shaped charm of a leaded bracelet.

Cadmium is classified as “carcinogenic to humans,” while lead, a potent
neurotoxin that is toxic even at very low levels of exposure can bring about
learning disabilities, behavioral problems, organ failure and even death.

Cadmium and lead are among the priority chemicals determined by the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources “to potentially pose unreasonable risk to
public health, workplace, and the environment.” 
The World Health Organization has also listed cadmium and lead among the  “ten chemicals of major public health
To protect consumers from being exposed to cadmium and lead in jewelry, the
EcoWaste Coalition urged the authorities to regulate toxic metals in jewelry as
they do in Europe and the USA and impose a labeling requirement to help consumers
identify which products are compliant and safe.
“The fact that the other four jewelry samples were negative for cadmium or lead
is a concrete proof that it’s possible to make products free of these toxic
metals,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.