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When In Doubt, Throw It Out Safely—Part 4

2010 May 20

For several weeks, my youngest daughter has been trying to persuade me to take her to one of her favorite stories to buy some “best friend” charm bracelets or necklaces to give to her friends at the end of the school year. I had been postponing the trip to the mall simply because I knew it was going to become a costly endeavor. Although the trip to her favorite store was intended to strictly buy the gifts for her friends, I knew that once we were in the door she would quickly identify several “must-haves.” In other words, the trip that originally was going to cost less than $25 could quickly turn into a three digit shopping spree if she had her druthers.

In this case, my procrastination paid off. Why, you may ask? Well, I just saw a blog by the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalling “best friend” charm bracelets due to high levels of cadmium! Although I was not planning on going to store in question to get those bracelets, now I definitely was not going to get those items. As parents, how can we be sure that similar children’s jewelry is not equally contaminated with cadmium or other toxic metals?!

Back in February, I wrote several blog entries on this very issue—the use of  cadmium and lead in cheap toy jewelry. The problem is that the use of these toxic metals, while illegal, seems to be expanding to imported children’s custom jewelry, in general, even when it’s not that “cheap-looking.” We’re no longer talking of those pieces that look like trinkets. Some of this children’s jewelry is actually quite attractive. It’s hard for a child to understand that the cool items can actually be harmful to their health.

Bottom-line, the advice remains the same. Lead and cadmium are both harmful to children’s health. Since children tend to put many things into their mouth, we can’t afford to have these toxic items lying around. These objects should be eliminated from a child’s environment. Monitor recall notices regularly. With increased awareness, we can better protect our children.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    May 20, 2010

    I feel different perception to see something between you and the kid. I feel it too, also my wife and others our families too. Universalism… So, each generation has specification and typicalization to survive for themselves. We, the parents, sometimes have conflict with my child if considered something. In fact, different generation are different nuance. The impact, we must to have strategic to protect our planet from time to time, for the future. Should EPA has …?

  2. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    May 21, 2010

    Childrens’ bracelets or beeds made with toxic compounds like cadmium or lead are too dangerous to buy. Health is to important to risk for something that looks attractive but you don’t know what is in it. Maybe the solution is to do something like the FDA has for food and drinks–develop a regulation that rquires the toy manufacturer to list on the package what chemicals and compounds are in the product being sold. And then do education with the parents on the importance of reading the labal. Also important as something not to buy are cigarette lighters made to look like childrens toys because too many time childern do mistake these lighters as toys and fires and injuries have resulted. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  3. mikita Taylor moore permalink
    May 21, 2010

    I am just becoming aware of all the lead and cadmium that are used in childrens toy jewelry. This was after I heard about wal-mart recalling the miley cyrus jewelry for high levels of cadmium it was a real wake up call the questions is what do we do next to help others become informed early on

  4. Lina-EPA permalink*
    May 21, 2010

    Michael,
    As always, very good points. The problem is –if we don’t know what the content of the products and we only find out there is a problem after the recall, imagine all the toxic exposures that occur before the recall goes into effect?

  5. Lina-EPA permalink*
    May 21, 2010

    Mikita,
    Definitely, we need to be informed early on to protect our children.

  6. Linda permalink
    May 24, 2010

    Perhaps a better answer for the next “must have” occasion is to work with your daughter to make gifts for her friends: real “hand crafted” art projects can be treasured keepsakes long after the store-bought items are gone and forgetten. A spool of silver wire or silk cord, a nice assortment of glass beads (or even hand-made beads of clay or wood, depending on your skills), a how-to book, and some basic tools such as a pair of needle-nosed pliers, and you’re ready to start crafting. A lot of my friends know how to knit: their gifts are always welcomed, too. I make bath salts and glycerine soaps, which are also well-received.

    There are so many crafts you could explore with your girls … who knows, you might be able to turn a lot of “must shop” times into “must make” occasions that you will treasure too.

  7. Claire permalink
    October 19, 2010

    We all buy toys for friends our children and ourselves but we should be more selective of what we buy and when in doubt throw it out

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