(ATTLEBORO FALLS, Mass.) - Illinois recently joined Minnesota as the second state to put into effect a ban on cadmium in children’s jewelry. The state is limiting the toxic metal to 75 parts per million (ppm) in any surface coating or accessible substrate of jewelry, reports MJSA, the U.S. trade association for jewelry makers, designers, and related suppliers. The law went into effect July 1, 2011.
According to the Illinois statute, companies are required to measure the amount of cadmium that can “migrate” or leach out of a sample of jewelry over a two-hour period, when the sample is immersed in a solution that simulates digestive acid. Because children’s exposure to cadmium usually occurs when they suck, chew, or swallow metal jewelry, the test works to replicate these conditions. In this regard the new law mirrors the Minnesota law, but Minnesota defines children as “6 and under,” whereas Illinois specifies that children are “12 and under.”
Three other states, California, Maryland, and Connecticut, have also passed legislation banning cadmium in children’s jewelry, but those laws will not take effect until 2012 (California and Maryland) and 2014 (Connecticut). These statutes call for different testing and different cadmium limits than Illinois and Minnesota.
The issue of cadmium in children’s jewelry first came to national attention in January 2010, when an Associated Press article revealed that some overseas jewelry manufacturers were using high levels of the toxic metal in children’s jewelry, which was found on the shelves of major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Claire’s Boutiques. Federal and state legislators soon began to introduce a patchwork of bills to limit the metal.
In response, industry companies, testing labs, consumer groups, associations such as MJSA and the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association (FJATA), and representatives of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) came together in June 2010 to form the ASTM Subcommittee on Children’s Jewelry, chaired by the FJATA. ASTM is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world and a trusted source for technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services.
The subcommittee produced a draft ASTM Children’s Jewelry Safety Standard, including recommendations on cadmium limits. If approved by ASTM and adopted by the CPSC, the standard would likely supersede state cadmium laws and ultimately create a national standard to which all children’s jewelry producers could adhere. The standard has been approved by the subcommittee, and is currently undergoing an approvals process within ASTM. The CPSC has also indicated that it will likely defer the adoption of regulations on cadmium in children’s jewelry to wait for the ASTM standard.
MJSA continues to monitor cadmium legislation on both the federal and the state levels, and to share its research and viewpoints with relevant state and federal officials. For more information and guidance on complying with new state cadmium regulations, MJSA members can visit mjsa.org to view the MJSA Guide to Cadmium in Jewelry and to obtain the frequently updated MJSA Cadmium in Children’s Jewelry: State Law Chart. The association also offers a list of member labs that conduct appropriate testing for cadmium in children’s jewelry.