CPSIA unintended consequences dept.

by Walter Olson on January 11, 2010

“Barred from using lead in children’s jewelry because of its toxicity, some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium in sparkling charm bracelets and shiny pendants being sold throughout the United States, an Associated Press investigation shows.” [AP/PhysOrg.com]

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Let’s all panic over cadmium in kids’ products
01.24.10 at 9:56 am

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1 Douglas2 01.12.10 at 4:27 pm

But some of the products tested had entered the distribution chain long before the CPSIA lead ban. I suspect that we just weren’t looking for cadmium before. Older jewelry solders have contained up to 30% cadmium in order to give “silver-solder” a low working temperature, but some people think that the source of the cadmium is inappropriate recycling of nickel-cadmium battery cells.
Cadmium is certainly something that you don’t want to eat or inhale, but I hate to think how much more expensive, difficult, and time consuming the maintenance of transport would be if cadmium-plating of hardware was phased out.

2 Aria 01.12.10 at 6:04 pm

Some, Douglas, but not all. The CPSIA applies retroactively to items as well as to new ones. Laws against things such as lead in paint have already existed (the lead-in-paint ban occurred in 1977). True, there are no existing laws again cadmium in paint of children’s jewelry, yet this is a known toxic metal. Many of the items now being imported are items manufactured after the CPSIA. Chinese companies are replacing lead with something that is the seventh on the most toxic list.

Guess who will pay. Small companies, mom-and-pop operations, small home businesses like mine. These Chinese companies, already ignoring existing laws and who are responsible for not only the majority of recalls here, but the majority of recalls in countries such as Canada, are rarely fined. Yet the small, American-based companies are.

Cadmium in batteries is cadmium in a non-user-accessible (via noral use) part. Cadmium as the metal from which a charm intended for wear by children is user-accessible, and in the case of at least one type of char, cadmium makes up 95% of it.

The “unintended consequence” here is that these Chinese companies are going to find ways to still produce items just as cheaply, if not cheaper than before, and the ways to do so may be far more dangerous than the dangers this Act was intended to cut.

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