A watch group on toxic chemicals in products and wastes on Monday urged the government, the jewelry industry and the civil society to craft a regulation that will restrict the content of hazardous substances in jewelry products.
The EcoWaste Coalition made the pitch for such a regulation after detecting high concentrations of cadmium and lead in cheap earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings and rosaries bought from retailers in Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila.
“Consumers are literally buying poison ornaments to adorn their bodies or express their faith without them knowing it because of the absence of legal restrictions on hazardous substances in jewelry and the lack of mandatory labeling information,” noted Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“As toxic jewelry products can pose risk to human health and the environment, we request the authorities to prepare the required regulation that will set legal limits on cadmium, lead and other chemicals of concern in jewelry with inputs from the industry and the civil society,” he said.
The group conducted its latest product screening following the market withdrawal of some jewelry items in France, Germany, Latvia and Sweden that contain levels of cadmium, lead, mercury or nickel in violation of national and European Union regulations as reported in RAPEX, or the EU rapid alert system for dangerous non-food consumer products.
EU regulations restrict cadmium and lead in jewelry at 0.01 percent and 0.05 percent by weight, respectively, or 100 parts per million (ppm) for cadmium and 500 ppm for lead. According to EU, “lead is harmful to human health and hazardous to the environment,” while “cadmium causes damage to organs and may cause cancer.”
Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence device, the EcoWaste Coalition found 23 of the 45 jewelry samples laden with extremely high amounts of cadmium and lead that would make them illegal to make, import or sell in the EU.
Among the most toxic pieces found were a crucifix pendant with 339,600 ppm lead, a rosary with a component that has 273,600 ppm lead, a pair of red earrings with 248,500 ppm lead, several metallic rings with over 100,000 ppm lead, a necklace with a medicine capsule-like adornment that has more than 100,000 ppm lead, a necklace with 54,600 ppm cadmium and yellow smiley ring with 48,600 ppm cadmium.
‘While most of the toxic articles we found are cheap adult jewelry, it is possible for these items to get into children’s hands or mouths, especially if they break and a child swallow a broken piece with high levels of cadmium or lead,” Dizon said.