Cadmium found in kids necklaces prompts recall, federal investigation

With new laws in place to force manufacturers to reduce lead in children’s products, parents should be able to relax their vigilance about toxins in toys. But a recent recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission raises concerns that other toxic chemicals may have replaced the lead in products designed specifically for use by children.

A federal agency has recalled Disney pendants like this one because of cadmium, a carcinogen that can damage kids’ kidneys and bones.

Earlier this month, the CPSC issued its first-ever recall for cadmium, a known carcinogen that can leach into the body and, over time, cause harm to children’s kidneys and bones. The chemical was found in Disney pendant necklaces sold at Wal-mart, but experts fear that as more testing is done, the chemical will turn up in many kids’ products.

“It’s one of those situations where they start testing it, and they start finding it,” says Sarah Chusid, spokesperson for Kids in Danger, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to improving children’s product safety. “And perhaps because they’re reducing the use of lead because of this new law, it’s being replaced with cadmium.”

Like lead, cadmium is especially toxic when children mouth items that contain the chemical. And it’s not just young children at risk, often teens and tweens will absent-mindedly suck on jewelry as well, Chusid says.

And, while some of these items with cadmium have been recalled, there is likely still more on the shelves. “Momentum is building with this and I’m sure we’ll see more and more recalls for it in coming months, now that it’s on the radar screen,” Chusid said in a follow-up email.

To ensure children’s safety, the CPSC is advising parents to take all cheap metal jewelry, including the charms that may be attached to shoes or clothing, away from children and throw them away (they can be disposed of in the regular trash). If your child ingests any of this jewelry, contact your pediatrician immediately.

Recalled product: The recalled jewelry is shaped as a metal crown or frog pendant on a metal link chain necklace in a crown hinged box. The packaging has the words “The Princess and the Frog” on it and was sold at Wal-mart between November 2009 and January 2010 for $5.

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