Originally publishing on EWG Enviroblog

In the absence of adequate federal regulation of hazardous chemicals, the states have stepped up to protect public health and the environment.

The Toxic Substances Control Act requires that state chemical regulations must be at least as strong as those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But the law, which hasn’t been updated since 1976, also gives states the right to take stronger action to protect their citizens when federal regulations fall short. The issue of cadmium in children’s jewelry shows how important it is that states retain their right to set their own limits on hazardous chemicals.

Cadmium is a carcinogen. Exposures can also damage the lungs and kidneys and weaken bones. Some animal studies suggest that kids may be more susceptible to bone damage from cadmium than adults. Children are especially vulnerable to cadmium because they are still developing, and since kids tend to put things in their mouths, jewelry can be a source of direct exposure.

Many parents were alarmed when, in 2010, a high profile study tested children’s jewelry made in China and sold throughout the U.S. The findings determined that some contained substantial amounts of cadmium, up to 90 percent in several cases. A subsequent study found some kids’ jewelry had more than 200,000 parts per million of cadmium, which some manufacturers began using instead of lead after the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 called for even tighter restrictions on the content of lead in children’s products. There were no immediate cases of illness linked to the cadmium jewelry, but even low exposures over time can cause serious health problems.

Read the full post here.