Followup: #ToxicJewellery

Followup by CBC Marketplace into toxic levels of Cadmium in children’s jewellery has prompted a response by the Canadian government. This response takes the form of legislation that limits the amount of Cadmium in jewellery targeted towards minors at 130 milligrams per kilogram – which essentially means they cannot add any additional Cadmium to fashion jewellery during the manufacturing process.

If that was on my wrist, and I was holding a baby, and the baby started to put it’s mouth on my wrist [to mouth the bracelet]. I wouldn’t have thought twice about that.

This kind of legislation should be passed for ALL fashion jewellery, not just those individuals Health Canada deems “at highest risk” for ingestion, mouthing, suckling, etc. As mentioned in the above quote, a mother or friend may wear jewellery that is not directly targeted for consumption by minors, but they could inadvertently expose the child to dangerously high levels of Cadmium. Furthermore, as demonstrated by the three young girls in the segment, even when jewellery is not directly targeted to minors, they still have access to it and the ability to purchase it.

James Van Lewn, Director of Risk Management at Health Canada’s Consumer Safety Branch, states that  “cadmium is a metal that can be very toxic if ingested. It can damage kidney, liver, immune function, basically any major system in your body can be harmed by cadmium.” So, if cadmium is so incredibly toxic, why is it not regulated across the board for children and adults alike? Below is an excerpt from the video detailing Health Canada’s official stance that they are only interested on items that are directly marketed to children, and that it is the job of parents to keep “age appropriate material” in the hands of your kids.


Partial Transcript

David Common, CBC Marketplace: China, makes it universal for kids and adults. The Europeans, do the same thing, they combine both kids and adult jewellery. Why not extend the guidelines to be regulations for everyone?

James Van Lewn, Health Canada: We’re very focused on those products that kids are actually likely to swallow. We’re not aware of incidents relating to cadmium in jewellery, like costume jewellery, resulting in injury.

David Common, CBC Marketplace: So, as a parent, I don’t want to be the one who’s kid goes to hospital to prompt you to go and take action.

James Van Lewn, Health Canada: Yep, and as a regulator, I’m suggesting your try to kid age appropriate material in the hands of your kids.


While it is appropriate, and even imperative that parents are monitoring the items children purchase from retail stores, it is fairly presumptuous that Health Canada assumes that parents understand all of the risks associated with said purchases. One of the mothers in this CBC Marketplace investigation states that she had no idea that Cadmium was even making it into fashion jewellery, regardless as to whether it was for adults or children. And why would, or should, she have this knowledge? My assumption is that she doesn’t work in the fashion industry at all, much less the jewellery industry, and would have absolutely no knowledge of the suspicious policies some manufacturers and retailers keep. This is not slamming the mother; given the numerous other responsibilities and specialized knowledge our society relies upon in other industries, we simply cannot assume that every person knows every danger. That is the purpose of legislation – to protect the health and wellbeing of every Canadian.

While I am happy that Health Canada is actually doing something about this. My concern lies with enforcement, and the duel system we have with regards to products marketed towards children versus adults. This legislation should be the same, across the board, for children and adults; because there is never a 100% guarantee that a child will not end up with something toxic.


Full video segment HERE. Note, to view the followup piece, please skip forward to 17:30.

Full article HERE

My previous article HERE

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