You know that really cheap jewelry that you can buy at Claire’s, Target and Forever 21? Well, there is no free lunch. You may only have to pay a few dollars for those earrings and necklaces, but that cheap price comes at the cost of you or your children’s health.
The Ecology Center, a Michigan-based non-profit organization that advocates for a safe and healthy environment, recently conducted tests and discovered that despite strict regulations, many pieces of costume jewelry contain high levels of unsafe chemicals.
“None of these things are things you want to have your child exposed to,” Dr. Kenneth R. Spaeth,director of the occupational and environmental medicine center at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., who was not involved in the study, told HealthPop. “All of these are harmful. Some of them are known to be carcinogens. Many of these are known to be neurotoxic, meaning they can affect brain development.”
99 Jewelry Pieces From 14 Different Retailers
For the Center’s test, posted on HealthyStuff.org, researchers took samples of ninety-nine different children’s and adult jewelry pieces from 14 different retailers from stores such as Ming 99 City, Burlington Coat Factory, Target, Big Lots, Claire’s, Glitter, Forever 21, Walmart, H&M, Meijers, Kohl’s, Justice, Icing and Hot Topic. (You can view the results of their tests in the video below.)
Using a tool called an X-ray fluorescence analyzer, they checked for lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, brominated flame retardants, chlorine, mercury and arsenic. Samples were collected from Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Vermont.
More Than Half The Pieces Had High Levels Of These 8 Toxins
Shockingly, the researchers found that more than half of the products, all of which cost less than ten dollars, had high levels of these eight hazardous chemicals. 27 of the products had greater than 300 ppm lead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)’s lead limit in children’s products. 90 percent of the pieces had chromium and nickel, which often cause allergic reactions and ten percent had cadmium, a toxic metal that has been the basis for several jewelry and toy recalls according to CBS News.
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.” Check our your jewelry box to make sure it doesn’t contain one of those!
Especially Dangerous For Children
These findings are scary enough for adults, but the bigger danger is that a child might somehow eat a broken piece of it or bite something that you’re wearing.
“There is no excuse for jewelry, especially children’s jewelry, to be made with some of the most well studied and dangerous substances on the planet,” Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org, said in a written statement. “We urge manufacturers to start replacing these chemicals with non-toxic substances immediately.”
While metals do not pose a risk by simply wearing the items, if they are consumed they can be deadly, according to Spaeth. Because they are cheaply made, they can easily chip, scratch or break. “When pieces are small enough to fit in (a child’s) mouth, the likelihood of ingestion increases dramatically,” he said.
More importantly, Spaeth said, the brominated flame retardants, which are usually sprayed on, can come off in someone’s hands and be absorbed in the skin or inhaled. This chemical compound has been known to disrupt hormonal balances and may cause a number of other known health effects.
You Don’t Need That Cheap Jewelry!
It turns out that jewelry sold specifically for children is required to meet safety standards, but adult jewelry is not — even though it can still be ingested or rubbed the wrong way by adults or children. Since this report has been released, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into it. They’re planning to pick up samples of the jewelry and test it themselves.
But you probably shouldn’t wait for the results of their tests. Why not just decide you’d rather not wear toxic chemicals around your neck, and skip the cheap jewelry store entirely?
Photo Credit: screenshot from youtube video