The jewelry industry is touting new self-imposed limits on the amount of cadmium allowable in children’s jewelry and is hoping the standards become federal law.
The new limits were approved by an international standards-setting agency and a committee of industry, consumer, scientific and government representatives last month. They call for the makers and suppliers of jewelry for children under age 12 to screen items for cadmium as they already do for lead.
The more than yearlong study and review process that created the standards came in reaction to an investigation last year that found high levels of cadmium, up to 90 percent in some cases, in some children’s jewelry.
Those findings then prompted a handful of product recalls and encouraged several state governments to propose or pass their own, in some cases very strict, individual limits that threaten to create a confusing and inefficient regulatory patchwork.
“It is important to have a national standard because states have become preoccupied setting there own standards,” said Brent Cleaveland, executive director of the North Kingstown-based Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association, a national association of suppliers, retailers and manufacturers. “We are excited to have the standard passed because, if it becomes a national standard, it will pre-empt the state standards.”
Cleaveland led the committee that passed the standards and included representatives of trade groups, testing labs, consumer advocates and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Even though the standards were accepted by the CPSC, they would need to be introduced and passed in Congress to become federal law and supersede the state statutes.
The new standards, which were the result of extensive cadmium testing, allow up to 300 parts per million of cadmium in jewelry for children. Any item with more than 300 ppm total cadmium, must undergo further tests to determine how much cadmium would leach out of them if they were swallowed or sucked on.
Only items that do not exceed the leaching levels would meet the standard.
Under a comprehensive 2008 federal law that set limits for lead in children’s jewelry, products are already tested for composition, so screening for cadmium is not expected to raise costs.
Peggy Jo Donahue, director of public affairs for MJSA, a national organization of jewelry makers, designers and suppliers based in Attleboro, emphasized that the new standards are “science-based” and represent the best information about what is needed to keep children safe.