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Toxic Cadmium in Kid's Jewelry Gets Lawmakers

Jan 1, 2010

News that cadmium is often used by Chinese manufacturers of children’s jewelry has prompted action by two New York lawmakers. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat, wants the toxic metal defined as a banned hazardous substance. Meanwhile, New York State Senator James S. Alesi, R-Perinton, introduced a new bill last week in Albany to ban the use of cadmium in jewelry marketed to young children.

The legislative push follows the publication of an Associated Press report that found cadmium in 12 of 103 pieces of children’s jewelry and trinkets tested. The most contaminated piece analyzed for its investigation contained a whopping 91 percent cadmium by weight. Other pieces of jewelry tested at 89 percent, 86 percent and 84 percent by weight.

Chinese manufacturers likely switched to using cadmium in the jewelry because they are barred from using lead, the Associated Press said. 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 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.

Schumer announced his legislation to ban cadmium last week at a press conference in front of the Dollar N More store on Mt. Hope Avenue in Rochester. “There’s nothing more important than the safety of our children,” Schumer said. “This toxic metal poses a direct threat to their safety and well being. I will fight tooth and nail to ensure this proposal becomes law as quickly as possible.”

Schumer said he hopes to get the legislation on the Senate calendar next month.

Alesi’s bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health Committee on Jan. 12. The legislation to ban cadmium is the latest in a series of measures that Alesi has introduced that focus on children’s health and safety. He has also introduced bills that would: ban lead in children’s jewelry; ban mercury in schools; ban dangerous cleaning products in schools; ban chromated copper arsenate (CCA) in pressure-treated lumber, once commonly used in wood playgrounds; and ban the use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles and water bottles.

“Young children are most vulnerable to the many health hazards that exist in our world, including cadmium poisoning that causes irreversible damage to the brain, kidneys, lungs and intestines, ” said Senator Alesi. “I have lead the fight for many years to remove dangerous toxins from children’s products, such as jewelry, toys, novelty products and candy. As we all know, young children tend to put things in their mouth and products that contain cadmium can leech off into their blood stream and have tragic results.”

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