EcoWaste Coalition Urges Government to Act against Cancer-Causing Cadmium in Children’s Jewelry

Quezon City. A group campaigning for children’s safety from harmful chemicals has called attention to the latest toxic scare sweeping across the US today: cadmium, a known carcinogen, in children’s jewelry.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which recently asked the Aquino government, to test toys for toxic chemicals as the Christmas season looms, revealed that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has so far issued five recall orders for cadmium-tainted children’s jewelry from China, prompting policymakers to seek stringent standards.

The California State Senate, for instance, approved a law last August banning the manufacture, shipment or sale of children’s jewelry containing more than 0.03 percent cadmium by weight beginning in 2012.

“We’re concerned that the government has yet to respond to this newly recognized threat of cadmium exposure to the health and wellness of children who are most vulnerable to toxic poisoning,” said Manny Calonzo, former president of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The government should conduct toxicological tests on children’s jewelry samples and immediately recall and dispose in an environmentally-sound manner those laced with cadmium and other chemicals of equivalent concern,” he said.

“We need to be on a ‘red alert’ to ensure that rejected children’s jewelry as well as toys containing elevated amounts of cadmium, lead and other toxic substances are not dumped into the Philippine market,” he pointed out.

Government action against cadmium in children’s jewelry, the EcoWaste Coalition said, is in line with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) that seeks to
“prevent the adverse effects of chemicals on the health of children and other vulnerable groups and susceptible environments.”

From January to July this year, the CPSC has issued recall orders targeting more than 200,000 “made in China” children’s jewelry due to their high levels of cadmium, warning that “cadmium is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects.”

Among the items recalled were children’s metal necklaces, pendants, rings, bracelets, earrings and trinkets that were imported from China and sold in various retail outlets in the US.

The CPSC further instructed consumers to stop using the recalled products immediately, while making it illegal to resell or attempt to resell the recalled products.

While cadmium is listed in the revised Priority Chemical List comprised of 48 chemicals, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has yet to issue a chemical control order (CCO) that will regulate the use of cadmium and cadmium compounds.

The DENR has so far issued only four CCOs for asbestos, cyanide, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls. CCOs are issued to prevent and reduce serious risks to public health, workplace and the environment from the “priority chemicals.”

According to the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, breathing high levels of cadmium can severely damage the lungs. Eating food or drinking water with very high levels severely irritates the stomach, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Long-term exposure to lower levels of cadmium in air, food, or water leads to a buildup of cadmium in the kidneys and possible kidney disease. Other long-term effects are lung damage and fragile bones.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that cadmium and cadmium compounds are known human carcinogens.

According to the Europe-based Safe Toys Coalition, which includes the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives as members, children are much more sensitive to exposure to toxic chemicals than adults.

“Their body systems are still premature and developing. Due to their different behavior they have different patterns of exposure, like putting things in the mouth. They are unaware of risks and unable to protect their health,” a statement by the Safe Toys Coalition said.

“Even the smallest amounts of hazardous chemicals are sufficient to harm the development of a child – sometimes with lifelong consequences. The increasing allergy and cancer rates demonstrate this,” the Safe Toys Coalition warned.


CPSC Infant/Child Product Recalls:

ToxFAQs for Cadmium:

Safe Toys Coalition:

Philippine Priority Chemical List