January 12, 2010
China jewelry makers say toxic metal cuts costs
By EUGENE HOSHIKO and ALEXA OLESEN
Associated Press Writers
For China's low-cost jewelry makers, it was an open trade secret: The metal cadmium is shiny, strong and malleable at low temperatures, regardless of its health hazards. And it's cheap.
Despite the risks, manufacturers in factories ringing this city on China's east coast say their top priority is profit. So offering cut-rate goods often means using lower quality materials, including cadmium, which is known to cause cancer.
"Business is business, and it's all up to our client," said He Huihua, manager of the Suiyuan Jewelry Shop at International Trade City in Yiwu, a sprawling wholesale mecca where sellers pitch their wares in hopes of landing a lucrative export contract. Read more here
After reading this AP article “China jewelry makers say toxic metal cuts costs” it should incense all of us! We have passed laws to protect ourselves and our children after learning "the hard way". Here we are fifty years later fighting the same battle only this time, the perpetrators are KNOWINGLY exposing people to a heavy metal. Here is a bit about Cadmium and what it does to the human body:
Cadmium has no constructive purpose in the human body. Cadmium and its compounds are extremely toxic even in low concentrations, and will bioaccumulate in organisms and ecosystems. In the 1950s and 1960s industrial exposure to cadmium was high, but as the toxic effects of cadmium became apparent, industrial limits on cadmium exposure have been reduced in most industrialized nations and many policy makers agree on the need to reduce exposure further. Ingestion of any significant amount of cadmium causes immediate poisoning and damage to the liver and the kidneys. Compounds containing cadmium are also carcinogenic.
In a reaction to this blatant disregard for human life a NY Senator is calling for a cadmium ban in kid’s jewelry & Wal-Mart is pulling jewelry cited in the AP report off the shelves. (Idaho State Journal).
I’m concerned as a jewelry maker that I’m not purchasing this “junk” and incorporating it unknowingly into my designs! How can I / we be sure??
Speaking from knowledge obtained on my day job, I handle compliance concerns regarding the flexible packaging that we print, laminate and convert- we have strict guidelines for direct food contact packaging as well as packaging for children’s products that they be compliant with CONEG Model Legislation. The sum of the concentrations of mercury, lead, cadmium and hexavalent chromium in these products do not exceed 100 parts per million by weight and that these metals are not intentionally added to these products.
Comparably, China has regulations limiting cadmium to tiny amounts in fashion jewelry and children's toys. Fashion jewelry should not contain more than 0.1 percent cadmium. In materials for toys, cadmium should not exceed 75 parts per million, or 50 parts per million for clay and paint. We are talking about cadmium in the realm of 90 percent!! Why is there no one responsible??
At a minimum, those artisans that buy components and resell them have a duty to request from their supplier an MSDS sheet. (Material Safety Data Sheet) That document, by law, lists any hazardous or toxic substance contained in the product being purchased. If we all become more vigilant it will become more difficult for products like this to infiltrate so easily. This is only one small step in what really needs to take shape. Again, speaking from my quality management background there lacks a system to test and hold suppliers accountable for their products.
Haven’t we learned anything from the toxic toys covered with lead paint that we were buying our children as gifts a few years ago?? Where is our government on these issues and holding those that deliberately break the law accountable??