Health Canada

Health Canada

December 15, 2011 16:25 ET

Consumers Warned of High Levels of Lead and Cadmium in Some Children's Jewellery

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 15, 2011) -

The issue:

This holiday season, Health Canada is reminding consumers that high levels of lead and cadmium can be found in a wide variety of children's jewellery products sold in Canada. Children can ingest harmful amounts of these metals when they chew, suck or swallow jewellery items that contain them. Lead and cadmium are very toxic to children even at low exposure levels. Simply wearing a jewellery item with lead and/or cadmium does not present a serious risk to health because there is minimal lead absorption through the skin.

Who is affected:

Consumers purchasing inexpensive children's jewellery.

What consumers should do:

- If you suspect your children's jewellery may contain lead or cadmium, throw it out in your regular household garbage. Consumers can also contact their municipality for instructions on disposing items containing lead.

- Do not give young children adult jewellery to wear or play with; it may contain lead or other heavy metals.

- Do not allow children to suck or chew on any jewellery.

- If your child has sucked or chewed regularly on jewellery which you think may contain lead or cadmium, ask your doctor to test your child's blood for lead or other heavy metals.

- A child who swallows a jewellery item containing lead is at high risk of developing severe poisoning. Contact an emergency medical service if you believe your child has swallowed an item containing lead or cadmium.

- Check for product recalls by contacting the retailer, manufacturer or Health Canada at www.healthcanada.gc.ca/cps-recalls.

-Additional information on lead in jewellery can be found on-line on the Consumer Product Safety web page ( http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/indust/jewellery-bijoux/index-eng.php ).

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning:

For more information on the risks and symptoms of lead exposure, visit Health Canada's: It's Your Health: Effects of Lead on Human Health ( http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/environ/lead-plomb-eng.php ).

What Health Canada is Doing:

Health Canada routinely conducts market surveys on children's jewellery and will continue to work with industry to take appropriate action when non-compliant products are found.

Background:

Under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA)'s Children's Jewellery Regulations, it is illegal to import, advertise or sell jewellery items that appeal primarily to children under 15 years of age and contain more than 600 mg/kg total lead and 90 mg/kg migratable lead, which is the proportion of lead that is released from the product into the body under certain conditions, such as chewing, sucking, or swallowing of the product.

In October 2010, the Government of Canada called on industry to voluntarily stop the use of cadmium in children's jewellery (http://hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2010/2010_178-eng.php). In July 2011, Health Canada held a public consultation on a proposed a guideline (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2011/2011_103-eng.php) of 130 mg/kg (0.013%) for cadmium in children's jewellery. The Department believes this level is protective of children's health. Under the CCPSA, it is illegal to market consumer products that present an unreasonable danger to health and safety.

Lead and cadmium contamination is not exclusive to metallic jewellery. Lead can be found in different materials used in jewellery manufacturing, such as some surface coatings as well as plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The level of lead found in a product can not be determined visually. Products labelled as "lead free" have been found to violate Health Canada's lead requirements.

Visit our web site for more information on how to check children's jewellery for safety (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/child-enfant/access/jewel-bij-eng.php)

For more information:

Consumers and health professionals wanting more information about this advisory from Health Canada can contact the Public Enquiries Line at 613-957-2991, or toll free at 1-866-225-0709.

Media enquiries related to this Advisory should be directed to Health Canada Media Relations at 613-957-2983.

How to report problems with consumer products:

Health Canada would like to remind Canadians to report any health or safety incidents related to the use of a consumer product or cosmetic. An easy-to-use incident report form (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/advisories-avis/incident/index-eng.php) is now available on the Department's website.

E-mail: CPSR-RSPC@hc-sc.gc.ca
Mail: Incident Report - Consumer Product Safety Directorate
Health Canada
123 Slater Street
Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1A 0K9

Related Health Canada Web content:

- Advisory (January 15, 2010) - Health Canada Advises Consumers of Lead and Cadmium Hazard in Children's Jewellery ( http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/advisories-avis/_2010/2010_07-eng.php )

- Consumer Product Safety - Jewellery ( http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/child-enfant/access/jewel-bij-eng.php )

- It's Your Health - Effects of Lead on Human Health ( http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/environ/lead-plomb-eng.php )

- Government of Canada Calls on Industry to Voluntarily Stop the Use of Cadmium in Children's Jewellery (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2010/2010_178-eng.php)

- Health Canada Proposes Guideline for Cadmium in Children's Jewellery (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2011/2011_103-eng.php)

- Stay connected with Health Canada and receive the latest advisories and product recalls using these social media tools: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/home-accueil/sm-ms/index-eng.php

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Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Health Canada
    613-957-2983

    Public Inquiries:
    613-957-2991
    1-866-225-0709