EPA May Move to Limit CadmiumSep 1, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering regulating cadmium in children’s jewelry. Over the past year, a number of retailers have recalled toy jewelry and other product made with the toxic substance.
As we reported previously, many Chinese manufacturers switched to using cadmium in products they imported to the US because they are barred from using lead. But cadmium is every bit as dangerous. Cadmium is a known carcinogen, and can interfere with brain development in very young children. On the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7. Kids can ingest the cadmium in jewelry by sucking or biting it.
In January, Inez Tenenbaum, head of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), warned parents to discard any cheap, Chinese-made jewelry their children might have because of concerns over cadmium. Unfortunately, the CPSC has no restrictions on using cadmium in children’s jewelry.
The Sierra Club, along with several other advocacy groups, asked the CPSC and EPA in May to ban cadmium. Last month, the CPSC said it was looking into the proposal.
According to a Bloomberg News report, the EPA says it will act to regulate the dangerous toxin in toy jewelry if the CPSC does not. In a letter to the Sierra Club, the agency said it would compel producers, importers and processors of cadmium to report on the metal’s health effects under a law designed to limit toxic substances. It will also write rules limiting cadmium if the CPSC fails to do so.
“EPA is concerned about the continuing use of cadmium in toy jewelry and is working with CPSC to develop the most effective means to address the issue,” Stephen Owens, EPA assistant administrator, said in the letter.