A major victory was won last week in the quest to make children’s products safer. In a settlement on Friday, 26 major retailers including Gap, Target, and Claire’s have agreed to strict limits on cadmium in jewelry (see the full list below). By December 31st of this year, children’s and adult jewelry sold by these companies will contain no more than 0.03% cadmium, a limit much stricter than the federal standard.
This is fantastic news given the toxicity of cadmium and news that Chinese manufacturers were using it in children’s jewelry. Cadmium is extremely toxic even in low concentrations, and like lead, accumulates over time in the body. Only a small amount of cadmium is excreted from the body over time.
All of the companies named in the lawsuit had sold jewelry containing high levels of the toxic metal in the last year and a half, according to Charles Margulis, spokesman for the Center for Environmental Health (CEH). The group initiated the lawsuit back in February 2010 after finding high levels of cadmium in adult jewelry purchased from 3 leading retailers: Saks Fifth Avenue, Aeropostale, and Catherine’s/Lane Bryant.
The CEH pursued the lawsuit under a California law created in 2006 with the goal to keep potentially hazardous materials from the public. Earlier this year, the CEH won a similar case against Tween Brands, operator of Justice brand stores. The case was the first legal settlement ever to limit cadmium in jewelry.
The big win in these cases are the national implications. Under the terms of these agreements, the retailers will instruct their suppliers to reformulate their jewelry on a nationwide basis. In addition, the 26 companies named in Friday’s settlement have agreed to pay $1.03 million which will be used to test jewelry for compliance with the agreement and to cover CEH legal expenses and ongoing work.
During the course of the lawsuit, California also took government action and created a law setting the same limit for children’s jewelry manufactured and sold in the state effective January 1, 2012. We may see labels on jewelry now looking something like this:
Because of the size of California’s market, it may effectively become a national limit, although other states won’t be able to enforce it. But hopefully, this will set a precedent that other states will follow. Limits on cadmium in children’s jewelry have already been passed in Connecticut, Illinois, and Minnesota.
List of Companies Included in September 2nd California Cadmium Settlement
Rainbow/5-7-9 Stores (AIJJ Enterprises/Rainbow Apparel)
American Eagle Outfitters
Catherines Inc/Lane Bryant
Old Navy/Banana Republic/The Gap
Rodgers Sports Management
The Wet Seal