In 2006, following a tragic incident where a young boy lost his life after swallowing a piece of metal jewelry that was almost entirely made of lead, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission made serious changes. After this incident, no company was allowed to produce children’s metal jewelry with over 300 parts per million of lead. Unfortunately, this does not mean that children’s jewelry is now safe from the dangers of heavy metals.
Lead and other heavy metals are often used to make heavier, more durable pieces of jewelry. Despite the change in regulations, many retailers are still found to carry products high in lead as recently as 2013. Many manufacturers have turned to other heavy metals, including cadmium, that are just as dangerous to children. In fact, a test done by the Associated Press in 2009 found that 12% of jewelry pieces they purchased contained around 10% of this hazardous heavy metal.
Kids put themselves at risk by swallowing, sucking or biting on jewelry, or even from repeated hand to mouth contact after touching the jewelry. After prolonged exposure to small doses, cadmium can cause kidney damage and weak bones within children. When ingested in high levels, cadmium can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and in some situations, death.
To keep your kids safe from being exposed to dangerous heavy metals in jewelry, follow these tips:
Even if you go to extreme measures to avoid what your child wears, you never know what he or she may be exposed to outside of your care. Teach kids to keep jewelry out of their mouths and to wash their hands after touching other friends’ and family members’ jewelry pieces.
Make your own jewelry.
Instead of relying on manufacturers to produce high quality children’s pieces, get creative with your kids and make your own. This way, you will have the power to research and pick your own materials, like the proper beads, wire, and cloth. Not only does this keep kids safe, but it’s a great way to spend quality time together and let kids exercise their creativity!
Think outside the jewelry box.
On top of children’s jewelry pieces, cadmium can also be found in other trinkets worn by kids, especially medals given out for after-school activities. Stay on top of anything that your kid brings home and wears, not just the jewelry pieces. If the item is of low quality metal, it is most likely made with some level of dangerous heavy metals and should be avoided.
Check your jewelry, too.
Another way in which children may be exposed to heavy metals? Your own jewelry. Although there are laws designed to prevent dangerous heavy metals in children’s jewelry, these rules do not apply when it comes to what is marketed towards adults. When protecting kids from heavy metals, it’s important to not only look at what you allow them to wear, but also what you wear around them. Make sure the pieces that you wear on an everyday basis, like engagement rings or charm necklaces are of high quality to ensure they don’t contain any of these dangerous heavy metals. If you love costume jewelry, make sure you’re not buying pieces made of cheap material that most likely contain high amounts of heavy metals.
Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. There’s no way to look at a piece of jewelry and know for sure whether it has hazardous materials, so if you’re unsure, it’s best to play it safe.