OnSafety is the Official Blog Site of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here you'll find the latest safety information as well as important messages that will keep you and your family safe. We hope you'll visit often!

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Guide for Parents: The Dangers of Heavy Metals in Children’s Jewelry

(Español)

In March 2006, a tragic incident occurred which had a significant impact on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Jarnell Brown, a 4-year old boy from Minneapolis, Minn., swallowed a metal charm that was nearly pure lead. He sadly died four days later. Since 2004, our agency has conducted more than 50 recalls of more than 180 million units of metal jewelry because it contained a hazardous amount of lead. Since August 2009, it has been illegal to produce a piece of children’s metal jewelry with more than 300 parts per million of lead.

Now we hear about cadmium in jewelry. This is unacceptable. Just this week, I sent a clear message warning manufacturers against the use of heavy metals, “especially cadmium,” in a keynote speech that was delivered Tuesday at the APEC Toy Safety Initiative/Dialogue in Hong Kong.

Because of these recent developments, I have a message for parents, grandparents and caregivers: Do not allow young children to be given or to play with cheap metal jewelry, especially when they are unsupervised.

We have proof that lead in children’s jewelry is dangerous and was pervasive in the marketplace. To prevent young children from possibly being exposed to lead, cadmium or any other hazardous heavy metal, take the jewelry away.

We are moving swiftly to stop the replacement of lead with cadmium and other hazardous heavy metals in children’s products imported from China. We are also actively investigating the jewelry cited in the recent AP story and will inform parents and consumers quickly of any actions we take as a result of our efforts. Our investigation is squarely focused on ensuring the safety of children.

It is very difficult for a parent to determine if an item contains harmful levels of a metal in a specific item except by checking recalls listed on the CPSC Web site. Parents should know that swallowing, sucking on or chewing a metal charm or necklace could result in exposure to lead, cadmium or other heavy metals, which are known to be toxic at certain levels of exposure.

We are working to take decisive action at CPSC, using the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, a law aimed at keeping kids safe from toxic chemicals and metals.

The key message that I want parents to know is: We will act to protect young children, but take the metal jewelry away from children who will swallow, suck or chew on it while our work continues.

Update, Jan. 2012:  Parents and consumers should be aware that ASTM International, a respected standards setting organization, approved a new, voluntary standard for children’s jewelry in December 2011.  The standard establishes limits aimed at keeping cadmium and other toxic metals out of surface coatings and the inside of the children’s jewelry.  CPSC staff was part of this process and CPSC’s scientific research was used in creating the safety standard.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/01/guide-for-parents-the-dangers-of-heavy-metals-in-childrens-jewelry/

CPSC Chairman’s Statement on Cadmium in Children’s Products

(Read the transcript or watch in Windows Media format. You can also download the video in Adobe Flash or Windows Media format)

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is moving swiftly to deal with the replacement of lead with cadmium in certain children’s products imported from China.

In a taped keynote speech to be delivered Tuesday to regulators at the APEC Toy Safety Initiative/Dialogue in Hong Kong, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum warns against the use of heavy metals, “especially cadmium,” in children’s products. While praising the removal of lead in children’s products, Tenenbaum encouraged manufactures in China to refrain from substituting cadmium, antimony or barium in place of lead.

“All of us should be committed to keeping hazardous or toxic levels of heavy metals out of surface coatings and substrates of toys and children’s products,” she says.

Later on in the speech, Tenenbaum notes that “Voluntary efforts will only take us so far.” She points out that CPSC staff has been working on testing protocols and lab accreditation rules for regulated children’s products. The agency will develop mandatory standards, as needed, to deal with heavy metals in children’s products.

CPSC staff has opened a formal investigation into children’s metal jewelry identified in a recent news story to determine the action CPSC needs to take to keep children safe.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/01/cpsc-chairmans-statement-on-cadmium-in-childrens-products/

Use Your Space Heaters Safely

It’s that shivering time of year again. Most of the U.S. is feeling below freezing temperatures and even the South is experiencing a hard freeze.

space_heater_320 So stored-away space heaters emerge in our efforts to stay warm. We at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (C.P.S.C.) want to remind you about a few winter safety tips. From 2003 through 2005, there was an annual average of 57,300 fires and 270 fire deaths associated with portable heaters, central heating systems and fireplaces and chimneys.

To use your space heater properly, there are several do’s and don’ts:

Do:

  • Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have the most up-to-date safety features. Older space heaters may not meet newer safety standards. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use.
  • Place the heater on a level, hard nonflammable surface such as a ceramic tile floor.
  • Keep the heater at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • Turn the heater off if you leave the area.

Don’t:

  • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep.
  • Don’t place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
  • Never use gasoline in a kerosene space heater, as even small amounts of gasoline mixed with kerosene can increase the risk of fire.
  • Don’t use portable propane space heaters indoors or in any confined space unless they are specifically designed for indoor use.

Also, be sure to guard against carbon monoxide poisonings by installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Make sure that your CO alarm batteries are fresh and working.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/01/use-your-space-heaters-safely/