Pretty, shiny and a major health risk: How scientists have found high levels of dangerous chemicals in costume jewellery

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2117157/Pretty-shiny-major-health-risk-How-scientists-high-levels-dangerous-chemicals-costume-jewellery.html

By Victoria Wellman

PUBLISHED: 09:58 EST, 19 March 2012 | UPDATED: 10:21 EST, 19 March 2012

The saying goes, ‘beauty is pain’ but now, according to recent scientific studies, accessorising with cheap costume jewellery can actually be dangerous.

After running a series of tests on a variety of low-cost jewellery items targeted at youngsters, non-profit environmental safety organisation, The Ecology Center, found alarming levels of harmful chemicals in their composition.

Lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury and arsenic among other highly toxic chemicals, were detected in over half the 99 items taken from branches of Claire’s, Forever 21 and H&M and other retailers across the United States.

Fatal attraction: Scientists have found high levels of toxic metals in cheap high street jewellery targeted at childrenFatal attraction: Scientists have found high levels of toxic metals in cheap high street jewellery targeted at children that have dangerous health implications

The health issues linked to these substances in past tests on animals and humans include acute allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer.

Jeffrey Weidenhamer, Ph.D, Professor of Chemistry at Ashland University, a leading national researcher on metals in jewellery collaborated with the Ecology Center on the study.

Lies: Pieces that claim to be lead free contained alarming levels of carcinogenic cadmium and some were made almost entirely of lead despite the labelLies: Pieces that claim to be lead free contained alarming levels of carcinogenic cadmium and some were made almost entirely of lead despite the label

Using x-ray fluorescence they identified which metals were present in the items and found consistently high levels of one or more toxic chemical.

Of the 99 pieces tested, 25 per cent contained levels of lead over 300 parts per million which exceeds the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s limit of lead permitted in the manufacturing of children’s products.

Dr Weidenhamer told CBS: ‘It ends up in the jewellery because it’s cheap, it’s easy to melt, it makes nice heavy pieces of jewellery and in fact we’ve found in a lot of the pieces we’ve tested that are 95 per cent lead by weight, that the alloy composition is almost identical to what you’d find in lead acid car batteries.’

Expert: Scientist Jeffrey Weidenhamer, Ph.D, said the main worry is that children erode any thin protective coating by mouthing pendants and other itemsExpert: Scientist Jeffrey Weidenhamer, Ph.D, said the main worry is that children erode any thin protective coating by mouthing pendants and other items

Furthermore, ten per cent of the items contained known carcinogen cadmium, most likely because there have been no restrictions on its use.

According to Dr Weidenhamer, the biggest worry is that children put the necklace pendants and rings in their mouths, chipping and wearing away the thin protective coating.

Over time, the levels of cadmium or lead to which a child could be exposed this way is ‘quite dangerous’, he said.

Despite statements issued from retailers like Target and Walmart claiming that all jewellery sold is tested according to federal regulations, the researchers found that in some stores pieces labeled ‘lead free’ were made entirely of lead.

Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center said: ‘There is no excuse for jewelry, especially children’s jewelry, to be made with some of the most well studied and dangerous substances on the planet.

‘We urge manufacturers to start replacing these chemicals with non-toxic substances immediately.’

Six states have moved to regulate cadmium in the absence of federal involvement, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Washington, Minnesota, Maryland.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2117157/Pretty-shiny-major-health-risk-How-scientists-high-levels-dangerous-chemicals-costume-jewellery.html#ixzz1pC0hhh6X

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Posted on March 19, 2012, in Health / Medicine, Science / Technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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