Cadmium Jewelry Poisoning

Cadmium Jewelry Poisoning

What is Cadmium? Cadmium is a soft metal found in dirt. We all inhale microscopic amounts of this which don’t cause any harm. However, touching this metal in concentrated amounts is known to cause cancer, permanently lowers IQ in children, results in learning disabilities, causes kidney and bone damage. In addition, in children, the amounts of this toxin continue to accumulate in the kidneys over time, affecting children’s health more than adults. It seems that once the U. S. Congress banned lead in children’s toys and jewelry in 2008, these manufacturers replaced one cheap metal with another cheap and more toxic metal. How could this happen? The manufacturers used a loophole; cadmium is banned in toys, but not jewelry.

In January of this year, cadmium was found in children’s jewelry purchased at Wal Mart, Claire’s, and a Dollar N More store. It was found that approximately 12% of the pieces tested contained a high level of cadmium. Most notably, some of Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” jewelry had cadmium. Children usually play with jewelry in their mouths. In addition, even if your child doesn’t, she probably touches it often. Cadmium can then be ingested when she puts her hand in her mouth as most young children often do.

This month, there is another bombshell. Cadmium was found in teen and adult jewelry. Most of the jewelry shown to have high levels of cadmium was manufactured in China. However, some pieces came from India as well. A consumer environmentalist group, the Center for Environmental Health ( found that approximately 7% of the pieces it tested contain high levels of cadmium, some up to 91% of the total weight of the item. The jewelry tested was obtained from various stores including Justice, Catherine’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Aeropostale.

Many of you may wonder what to do next. The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recommended that you throw away all of your children’s cheap metal jewelry. If your child has any of the known affected jewelry, dispose of it immediately. If you would like to know if your child’s jewelry is filled with cadmium, you can test it. Test kits can be found at

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About Nancy M. Silva, MD, FAAP

I'm a Board Certified Pediatrician. I've been in practice since 2000. I'm happily married with two children. I graduated Medical School from the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn, NY. My Pediatric Residency training was at University of South Florida, College of Medicine. I've been in private practice since 2000. As a medical student, I had the privilege to care for children at Kings County Hospital & Downstate Medical Center in urban Brooklyn. As a resident, I cared for children at Tampa General Hospital & All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. These experiences helped shape the Pediatrician I am today.

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