Throw them out: Health Ministry warns of heavy metals in kids’ jewelry

The ministry said that there is no mandatory standard for children’s jewelry.

January 4, 2017 19:14
2 minute read.
An employee takes silver chains at the jewelry departmen

An employee takes silver chains at the jewelry departmen.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals have been found in a large number of children’s jewelry sold in stores for babies, toddlers and young children, according to a study carried out by the Health Ministry, the Israel Standards Institute and the University of Haifa. Families having such products at home should immediately throw them into the garbage.

The research team randomly purchased children’s jewelry at baby supply shops around the country, the ministry said on Wednesday. Lab tests were conducted at ISI labs with funding from the Health and Environment Foundation. They tested 22 different products marketed in such stores. Among those selling the harmful products were: Honigman, Sweet Girl Shop, Castro Children and Top Ten.

The tests found very high and excessive levels of lead and cadmium, with some also having excessive levels of nickel, arsenic and chrome in the jewelry – from 100 to 1,000 times more than permitted by American and European standard for such products.

Each of the pieces were examined separately for its contents. Half of the children’s jewelry items were found to contain excessive amounts of lead, and 33% having too much cadmium.

The report did not have any data about concentrations of heavy metals in other items marketed for children.

Exposure to lead is liable to cause a variety of health issues, including learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Lead harms the nervous system and cognitive development. The medical literature reports illness and even death in children who have swallowed pieces of jewelry containing high levels of lead.

Cadmium exposure can harm kidney function and the bones, as well as disrupt children’s cognitive development, said the ministry.

It added that simply wearing jewelry with heavy metals does not endanger children.

Nevertheless, it said those pieces that have excessive amounts of heavy metals endanger the public, especially small children, who tend to put everything in their mouths. Thus, it declared: “The presence of heavy metals in products meant especially for children are liable to expose this sensitive group in the population to significant health dangers.”

The ministry said that there is no mandatory standard for children’s jewelry.

High levels of nickel can cause skin allergies. If a child has such allergies, she or he should not wear such jewelry.

If a child just wore the jewelry, without licking or swallowing pieces, there is no need for seeing a doctor or having tests. If they did lick parts once, there is no reason to do anything, but parents can go to the doctor if worried.

If the child put the jewelry in its mouth regularly without swallowing, go to the doctor, who will decide whether to test for heavy metals in the blood. If the child swallowed the jewelry or part of it, go to the doctor to consider a stomach x-ray and blood tests for lead.

Following its findings, the ministry is working with the ISI and the Economics Ministry to promote mandatory requirements regarding heavy metals in jewelry meant for children, as there are in the US and Europe. Until these take effect, the ministry turned to companies that import and market the jewelry and called on them to take them off the shelves. It also recommended that they send them for testing to see if they meet American and European standards before their import.

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