Feds Fail to Enforce Restrictions on Cadmium in Children's Jewelry
The issues surrounding "children's products" have been at the heart of many issues for the CPSC ever since it passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in 2008. The requirements for children's products are strictly different from general use products, but the definitions of each are more variable, creating confusion. Rick Brenner, CEO of Prime Line, used a water bottle to illustrate the point in a blog post earlier this year.
"If the name of [a] team is imprinted in a plain type style, the bottle is considered a general use item—not a children's product—because CPSC says it appeals to all ages including the 7-year-old Little Leaguers," he said. "Most importantly, general use items don't have to comply with children's product standards. But the identical water bottle decorated with a Winnie the Pooh-type character—something that would only appeal to the young children—is considered a children's product and has to comply with the CPSIA standards."
Cadmium made headlines two years ago when an AP investigation found that many Chinese manufacturers were using it in place of lead, which had been banned in children's products. The soft, malleable metal can cause serious health issues over time, including kidney failure and cancer, and is also toxic when ingested. According to the CPSC, several thousand children are treated for swallowing jewelry every year.
Earlier this year, CPSC commissioner Inez Tenenbaum endorsed a voluntary children's jewelry safety standard proposed by the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association and the Toy Industry Association. This is in keeping with the commission's policy of encouraging industries to police themselves. In the absense of federal regulations, six states have elected to impose limits on cadmium in jewelry, and some retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target have implemented internal safety testing, but these precautions are far from universal protections.