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Cadmium in Children’s Jewelry

Background on Cadmium in Children’s Jewelry Law

In 2006, the California legislature enacted the Lead-Containing Jewelry Law (Stats. 2006, ch. 415) to limit the amount of lead—a toxic metal—in jewelry, including children’s jewelry and body piercing jewelry. More recently, instances of high levels of cadmium (another very toxic metal) in jewelry for children have been in the news. Effective January 1, 2012, the cadmium in children’s jewelry law (Health and Safety Code section 25214.2) will make a number of changes to the Lead in Jewelry Law, to address the issue of cadmium in children’s jewelry. Any person who is not in compliance with the law may be subject to fines of up to $2,500 per day for each violation.

See our LA Jewelers Cited for Selling Lead Tainted Jewelry web page to learn more about the State finding 343 tainted items – some labeled “lead free.”

Specifically, as of January 1, 2012:

  • Children’s jewelry that is manufactured, sold, or offered for sale and transported within California shall not have more than 0.03% (300 ppm) cadmium by weight. Cadmium restrictions apply to any children’s jewelry component or material.
  • The law excludes from this prohibition any toy regulated for cadmium exposure under the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-314).
  • Manufacturers and suppliers are required to provide certification that their jewelry does not contain cadmium or lead in violation of the law. Such certification can be in the form of either: a certification document or displayed on the shipping container or on the packaging of the jewelry.

Click here to see specific changes added by this law and here for specific changes
added by a related more recent law: Senate Bill 646 (Pavley, Stats. 2011, c.473).

What is Cadmium and How is it Used in Jewelry?

Cadmium is a soft, bluish-white metal usually found in the earth’s crust as a mineral combined with other elements, like oxygen, chlorine and sulfur. Cadmium is used in nickel-cadmium batteries, pigments, metal plating and coatings, and stabilizers in plastics.

In children’s jewelry, cadmium is used to make the coating of jewelry shiny and to add weight and mass to each piece. However, cadmium is also a toxic heavy metal and a suspected carcinogen. Chronic cadmium ingestion can lead to kidney damage, bone loss problems; vomiting, diarrhea and even death at high enough doses. Children are particularly susceptible to these health effects.

Who Does this Law Apply to?

Starting January 1, 2012, no person may manufacture, ship, sell, offer for sale, or offer for promotional purposes children’s jewelry that contains any component or is made of any material that is more than 0.03% cadmium by weight in California.These restrictions apply to small and big manufacturers, retailers and suppliers in California, including people who make and sell their own jewelry, tattoo and body piercing shops, vending machines, etc. The law allows DTSC to adopt regulations that modify the permissible cadmium level in the future.

Contact Us

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You can also reach us by phone at (800) 72TOXIC – that’s (800) 728-6942. From outside California, call (916) 255-3618. If you get voice mail it is our policy to contact you either the same day or the next business day.

Do you have knowledge of a possible violation to the cadmium in children’s jewelry law?

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) would like to know about it. Please use the CalEPA Environmental Concern Form to report an environmental concern with CalEPA. Be sure to select the image or checkbox for “Toxic Substances” to ensure the complaint is received by the Department of Toxic Substances Control. You may also call the complaint hotline from anywhere in California at 1-800-698-6942.


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