toxic metals

When In Doubt, Throw It Out Safely—Part 4

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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Yes, Throw It Out—Safely

In last week’s blog “When In Doubt, Throw It Out!,”

I discussed the use of toxic metals in some toy jewelry and metal trinkets produced overseas. As the title suggested, I recommended if you were concerned over the potential toxicity and risks of these toys, the best thing to do was to dispose of these products. However, I didn’t address another legitimate concern: is it safe for the environment to simply throw these articles in the trash? Well, the answer is yes. I will explain why.

First of all, I would like to thank two individuals, Mauricio D’Achiardi and Joan, for their comments last week. They actually posed the question regarding the proper disposal of these toy trinkets. Since I didn’t have an answer, I consulted with our experts in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. The guidance is: “Consumers can check with their local recycling facility to see if they collect these kinds of contaminated jewelry and trinkets. To find a local recycling facility, they can go to www.earth911.com . If their local recycling facility doesn’t take these articles, consumers can go ahead and throw them in the trash. Our modern landfills are made to be able to hold such contamination without leaking it into the environment.” So, we can dispose of these safely.

For more information on the disposal of waste, please visit our Website. For information on product recalls and keeping people safe in and around the home, visit the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Neighborhood Safety Network. And please keep those comments coming. We all can learn from this Greenversation.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.