Press Releases

This St. Patrick’s Day, More Jewelry Found With Cadmium and Lead

Oakland, CA- Independent testing commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has found more jewelry with high levels of cadmium, including a pendant on a child's St. Patrick's Day shamrock necklace that contains the toxic metal at a level that is more than 20,000 times the standard adopted last year by Washington State. Additionally, a St. Patrick's Day key chain from an Icing store, part of the Claire's corporation, was found to contain high levels of lead in violation of California law.

CEH yesterday initiated legal action to end cadmium threats in jewelry from retailers Claire's, American Eagle Outfitters, Up Against the Wall, and Buckle. Lab tests show that the cadmium levels in jewelry from the four retailers ranged from more than 6,000 to more than 20,000 times higher than the Washington level.

"There's nothing lucky about having a chemical linked to cancer and birth defects hanging around your daughter's neck," said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. "This St. Patrick's Day, shoppers need to know that there could be a pot of cadmium in jewelry from these stores." Last month, CEH initiated the nation's first legal action to eliminate cadmium threats in jewelry from four other retailers: Saks Fifth Avenue, Justice, Catherines, and Aeropostale.

Cadmium is a heavy metal that can cause cancer, genetic damage, and kidney problems. A 2006 study concluded that exposure in children "should be limited as much as possible" to prevent direct health problems and problems later in their lives. A recent review of cadmium's potential for reproductive harm concluded that the chemical "has the potential to affect reproduction at every stage of the reproductive process."  In men, this includes problems with sperm production; in women, it includes problems getting and maintaining a pregnancy as well as birth defects. People can be exposed to cadmium if they touch, suck on or accidentally swallow metal pieces, and studies show it can stay in our bodies for more than two decades.

A federal law on lead in children's products, including jewelry, went into effect last year, but a loophole in the law has allowed jewelry makers to substitute cadmium. Congresswomen Jackie Speier has introduced federal legislation to ban cadmium and other toxic metals from all children's jewelry nationwide, and California State Senator Fran Pavley, who in 2006 authored the nation's first ban on lead in children's jewelry, has introduced a state bill to ban the use of cadmium in children's jewelry.

CEH's legal work has previously uncovered lead threats from toys, vinyl baby bibs, diaper creams and children's medicines, lunchboxes, children's jewelry, automobile wheel weights, and many other products. CEH has a thirteen-year track record of protecting consumers from hidden health hazards and protecting communities from health hazards related to toxic pollution. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.

For more, read CEH's report on cadmium in jewelry

For the Washington State ban on cadmium in children's products, see

For information on the proposed federal legislation to ban cadmium in children's jewelry (HR 4428), see

For information on the proposed state legislation to ban cadmium in children's jewelry in California, see