Tag Archives: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

CPSC Won’t Set Cadmium Limits

26 Oct

[reprinted from Counselor® PromoGram® Volume 759 / October 26, 2010]

Backing away from a stance of regulation, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced it will not impose mandatory limits on the amount of cadmium that can be used to manufacture children’s items, like toys and jewelry. Instead, the CPSC has recommended “acceptable daily intake” levels for the heavy metal, ceding formal rule-making to trade and consumer groups that can develop voluntary manufacturing standards. “If we find those standards are insufficient to protect the health and safety of consumers, then we can move to a mandatory standard,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

According to Tenenbaum, CPSC scientists have determined that children can safely ingest 0.1 micrograms daily of cadmium per every kilogram of body weight for an extended period, and 11 micrograms per day at once. Based on those numbers, some recent product recalls, including the much-publicized McDonald’s recall of 12 million “Shrek”-themed drinking glasses, would not have been issued.

While the CPSC has declined to regulate cadmium, federal officials are still acting to pressure manufacturers into accepting a uniform position on the metal’s use. First, the CPSC is recommending a new test, generally considered rigorous by jewelry makers, that would measure cadmium by dissolving an item in acid for 24 hours. Additionally, CPSC staff is urging ASTM International, a standards-setting organization, to revise its safety rules to phase out cadmium from children’s items.

Although there remain no federal cadmium regulations, four states – Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota and California – passed strict laws this year limiting the use of the metal. Manufacturers are especially affected by the mandates in California, which is home to two of the largest ports in the nation and a major receiver of products from China. Concern over the potentially toxic metal began in January, when testing showed a single piece of children’s jewelry, imported from China, was 91% cadmium.

To date, no recalled item in the U.S. has contained enough cadmium to prove fatal to a child, but health experts warn the metal can lead to liver and kidney damage, and even cancer, if swallowed.

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