HONG KONG, Jan. 12 -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission will develop standards to cover toxic metals in children's products after a report that cadmium was found in bracelets and pendants imported from China.
"Voluntary efforts will only take us so far," commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaumsaid in a taped speech for a toy safety conference in Hong Kong, according to the agency's Web site.
Some Chinese manufacturers use cadmium, a carcinogenic heavy metal, to make charm bracelets and shiny pendants sold in the U.S. because they are banned from using lead, the Associated Press reported yesterday. The products are the latest Chinese- made goods linked to health hazards after Mattel Inc. recalled toys in 2007, melamine-tainted milk was blamed for the deaths of six babies in 2008 and drywall made in China was linked to health complaints last year.
Closely held Shantou Jinxing Plastics Ltd., a Guangdong, southern-China based maker of plastic toys and jewelry, said its products meet U.S. safety rules, including those on cadmium and lead. Production costs for the company, which exports 60 percent of its products to the U.S., increased 15 to 20 percent last year because of increased testing, general manager Lin Fenghong said in an interview late yesterday.
China's Commerce Ministry didn't answer calls seeking comment yesterday and today.
The AP said laboratory tests of 103 items bought in New York, Ohio, Texas and California showed that 12 percent of the examined jewelry contained at least 10 percent cadmium. One had 91 percent cadmium by weight, the report said.
Cadmium, Antimony, Barium
Children can get low-level exposure to cadmium by sucking or biting on tainted goods without having to swallow them, the news service reported.
The U.S. product safety agency has started an investigation of children's metal jewelry, it said on its Web site.
"I would highly encourage all of you to ensure that toy manufacturers and children's product manufacturers in your country are not substituting cadmium, antimony, barium in place of lead," Tenenbaum said in her speech recorded for the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation's Toy Safety Initiative/Dialogue.
Mattel, the world's biggest toymaker, in 2007 recalled more than 21 million China-made toys because of design flaws or paint with too much lead. In 2008, melamine-tainted milk was blamed for the deaths of six babies and ailments in about 300,000 children in China.
Last year, drywall made in China and imported into the U.S. was linked to corrosion of metal and wires in homes and may also be harming people's health, according to a report by the product safety commission. A study of 51 homes with the product found corrosion and elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide and formaldehyde, which may cause eye irritation, coughing, headaches and sinus infections, the report said.