Legal Action Initiated Against Leading Retailers for Cadmium in Jewelry

Legislation passed by the Connecticut legislature earlier this month bans more than 0.0075% cadmium in products for children. An independent lab test shows that a pendant on a MileyCyrus/Max Azria brand-necklace purchased from a Bay Area Walmart contains more than 3,500 times that level. “Miley Cyrus may be growing up, but parents should know that jewelry with high levels of cadmium is unsafe at any age,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “We expect these companies to act immediately to stop the sale of cadmium-tainted jewelry.” An AP report today revealed that Wal-Mart has known about the cadmium in its jewelry since February but has continued to sell the tainted items.

In February, CEH filed the first legal challenge to stop the sale of cadmium-tainted jewelry against retailers Saks Fifth Avenue, Justice, Catherines, and Aeropostale, and in March the nonprofit sent legal notices to retailers Claire’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Up Against the Wall, and Buckle regarding high levels of cadmium in their jewelry. Cadmium is a heavy metal that can cause cancer, genetic damage, and kidney problems. A 2006 study concluded that

exposure in children “should be limited as much as possible” to prevent direct health problems and problems later in their lives. A recent review of cadmium’s potential for reproductive harm concluded that the chemical “has the potential to affect reproduction at every stage of the reproductive process.”  In men, this includes problems with sperm production; in women, it includes problems getting and maintaining a pregnancy as well as birth defects. People can be
exposed to cadmium if they touch, suck on or accidentally swallow metal pieces, and studies show it can stay in our bodies for more than two decades.

Since CEH’s 2006 landmark legal settlement to end health threats from lead in jewelry, the nonprofit has settled lead jewelry lawsuits with more than 150 jewelry retailers and distributors. The CEH settlement formed the basis of California law that sets strict limits on lead in adult and children’s jewelry.

Earlier this year Congresswomen Jackie Speier introduced legislation to ban cadmium and other toxic metals from all children’s jewelry nationwide, and California State Senator Fran Pavely introduced legislation that would ban cadmium in jewelry for children.

For more on cadmium in jewelry, see www.ceh.org

For information on federal legislation to ban cadmium in children’s jewelry (HR 4428), see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.+4428:

For more on CEH’s legal settlement on lead in adult and children’s jewelry, see http://www.ceh.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=153&Itemid=166

For information on California’s jewelry law, see http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/ToxicsInProducts/Cadmium.cfm

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