March 20, 2012

Fashion jewelery, a real health danger

Recent scientific studies of a non-profit environmental safety organisation, The Ecology Center, revealed disturbing findings: many of the jewelry for adults and children contain toxic substances, really dangerous for health.

After chemical analyzes on 99 jewelry taken from stores, researchers found that more than half of them contain ingredients particularly dangerous for humans. Lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury and arsenic are some of the most harmful ingredients in the composition of the jewelry. Their presence can lead to allergies, may affect children’s brain growth, can contribute to various type of cancer or toxicity in the body.

Of the 99 pieces tested, 25 per cent contained levels of lead in amounts that exceeds the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s limit of lead permitted in the manufacturing of children’s products. Jeffrey Weidenhamer, a Chemistry professor at Ashland University, who participated at the research, said the presence of these elements in jewelry has a simple explanation: “It ends up in the jewelers because it’s cheap, it’s easy to melt, it makes nice heavy pieces of jewelers. In fact, we’ve found in a lot of the pieces we’ve tested that are 95 per cent lead by weight, that the alloy composition is almost identical to what you’d find in lead acid car batteries.” (according to

Furthermore, ten per cent of the items contained known carcinogen cadmium, an item with no restrictions on its use. According to Dr Weidenhamer, the biggest worry is that children put the necklace pendants and rings in their mouths, chipping and wearing away the thin protective coating.

Despite the giant retailers like Target or Wal-Mart claim that jewelry are made according to local federal regulations, the researchers found that in some stores pieces labeled ‘lead free’ were made entirely of lead.

Because federal authorities didn’t involve in this issue yet, six states have started regulating on their own level of cadmium in jewelry. These states are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Washington, Minnesota, Maryland.

Lead: even the smallest traces of lead in the body have effects on children’s brain development, causes irreversible learning and development problems, a lower IQ, poor concentration and attention.

Cadmium: known as a carcinogen, is associated with lung and prostate cancer. May generate hormonal effects, high blood pressure, possible decreases in birth weight, delayed sensory-motor development, altered behavior. The ingestion of large amounts may cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and even death.

Chromium: may cause birth defects and reproductive problems, especially in men, asthma and nasal irritation.

Mercury: can affect kidneys, nervous system and various brain regions.

Arsenic: can generate lung cancer, skin cancer, and bladder cancer. Contributes to skin irritation, cardiovascular and hormonal disturbances, diabetes.