If you're like a lot of folks, you may have spent years appreciating the oh-so-affordable and bling-ey treasures you could buy at places like Claire's, Target and Walmart. You could choose from a zillion cute necklaces, bracelets and earrings and be able to afford a different set for every outfit. Some of you might even be continuing the hunt for pretty stuff in the big retail markets. Today I'm going to share a new study with you that may make you think twice about that.
Recently a non-profit environmental organization called The Ecology Center ran tests on 99 pieces of jewelry purchased from 14 different discount stores such from around the country, including Target, Claire's, Glitter, Forever 21, Walmart, H&M, and Hot Topic. Some of the jewelry was for children, some for adults. The researchers checked each piece for dangerous things like lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, brominated flame retardants, chlorine, mercury and arsenic. Over half of the jewelry, all of which cost less than ten dollars, had high levels of these hazardous chemicals, including 27 of the pieces that had lead levels exceeding the 300 ppm limit for children's products. Ninety percent of the pieces had chromium and nickel, which can cause allergic reactions, and ten percent of the pieces had cadmium, which is a toxic metal that's been the subject of other jewelry and toy recalls. Some of the most toxic pieces they found included Claire's Gold 8 Bracelet Set, Walmart's Silver Star Bracelet, Target's Silver Charm Necklace, and Forever 21's Long Pearl Flower Necklace." (You can read the entire Time Magazine article on this study by Alice Park here: http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/13/toxic-bling-jewelry-contains-hazardous-levels-of-lead-and-other-chemicals/ )
The most significant bigger danger is that a child might somehow eat a broken piece of it or bite something that you're wearing. (No joke, Shannon actually put a turquoise bead up her nose when she was about two years old -- you can read that story here: http://www.thebead.net/index.php/about-us) But even beyond the obvious danger to children, there's also the problem of the brominated flame retardants, which are usually sprayed onto jewelry and can rub off onto your skin or be inhaled. Compounds that appeared in the analysis included cadmium, a toxic metal used in electroplating processes that can build up in the kidneys and impair kidney function and contribute to reproductive abnormalities and lung cancer. Another frequently found substance was arsenic, which has been linked to bladder, kidney, lung, liver and prostate cancers following repeated exposure.
Young children are the primary target of the inexpensive jewelry studied, and their increasing risk of exposure to these toxic compounds has led consumers to push for stricter laws regulating chemicals in commercial products. In April 2011, Sen. Frank Lautenberg introduced a bill to upgrade the Toxic Substances Control Act, which would increase the testing of commonly used chemicals and better inform the public about potential hazards of the compounds in everyday products. Advocates hope the bill will move to a vote in the Senate this year. Until then, even if your children (or you) are a fan of inexpensive bling, it's probably a good idea to keep the accessorizing to a minimum, unless you are familiar with how it (and its components) were created. And its definitely a good idea to get the word out about what a great alternative handmade jewelry can be. Read our previous post on Eco-Friendly Jewelry to learn more.
Until Next Time,