Health Canada

Health Canada

May 17, 2010 15:28 ET

Consumers Warned of High Levels of Lead in Children's Jewellery

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 17, 2010) - Health Canada

The issue:

Health Canada is advising consumers that high levels of lead continue to be found in a wide variety of children's jewellery products sold in Canada. Children can ingest harmful amounts of lead when they chew, suck or swallow jewellery items containing lead, as lead is very toxic to children even at low exposure levels. Simply wearing a jewellery item with lead does not present a serious risk to health because there is minimal lead absorption through the skin. In addition to lead, Health Canada is also concerned that cadmium, which is a carcinogen, may be increasingly substituted for lead in inexpensive children's jewellery. 

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).

Background:

Several voluntary recalls for children's jewellery products have been published in the last few weeks. The sampling and testing phase of Health Canada's 2009/2010 Cyclical Enforcement testing on children's jewellery products concluded in March 2010 and the Department continues to work with industry to take the appropriate action on non-compliant products. 

Under item 42, Part I of Schedule I of the Hazardous Products Act, 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.

Lead 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.

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

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Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Health Canada
    613-957-2983
    or
    Public Inquiries:
    613-957-2991
    1-866-225-0709