Healthystuff.org Piece is Misleading
On March 13, 2012, HealthyStuff.org, a web site managed by the Ecology Center, and supported by a grant from the Center for Environmental Health, a noted Proposition 65 “bounty hunter,” issued a report (View Report) based on testing of 99 jewelry products.
This was circulated as a press release and as a TV expose. The report claimed that almost 60% of the jewelry items tested “had a ‘high’ level of concern due to the presence of one or more hazardous chemicals.” But what HealthyStuff.org didn’t say is that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) rejected the notion that total content limits for cadmium could be established based on extensive testing it conducted in a detailed report issued in October, 2011 (View October Report).
HealthyStuff.org also doesn’t mention that the CPSC vigorously urged both the jewelry and the toy industry to follow those October, 2011 recommendations in developing standards for cadmium in jewelry and toys. Cadmium in both children’s jewelry and toys is now covered by two standards: ASTM 2923-11 (for children’s jewelry) and ASTM F-963 (for toys).
While the HealthyStuff.org study may have been a late effort to support an earlier petition by the Sierra Club and others seeking a total content restriction on cadmium in what it characterized as “toy jewelry”, the CPSC approached the matter scientifically, studying exposure and risk rather than simply adopting total content limits that lack any foundation in fact.
On June 29, 2012, the CPSC issued a report (View Report) recommending the rejection of the Sierra Club Cadmium Petition. This report was the culmination of additional work by CPSC studying industry compliance with the risk assessment recommendations for cadmium. The result: there is widespread compliance with the standards embodied in ASTM F2923-11, the Children’s Jewelry Safety Standard.
Healthystuff.org collected jewelry samples and tested with an XRF spectrometer. In the report, Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org, is quoted: “Toxic jewelry is a symptom of the complete failure of our federal chemical regulatory system. Our children will never be safe until we reform our chemical laws to ensure products are safe before they arrive on store shelves”. This exaggerated statement represents pure sensationalism as is confirmed by the CPSC Staff Report.
The CPSC’s review of the 99 items, which Heathystuff.org acknowledged included “children’s and adult jewelry”, concluded that the vast majority were not children’s products! Of the fourteen items that might have been children’s products, CPSC noted that five were not available in stores based on the limited information Healthystuff.org had provided. Out of the nine products left, CPSC concluded seven were adult products. The remaining two were tested for compliance with children’s product regulations and found not to have excessive levels of either lead or cadmium.
Healthystuff.org touted its report as an expose of the jewelry industry and “contaminants” in products. Actually, it was a misrepresentation of the facts about cadmium risks, since it failed to discuss the publicly available data and conclusions from the key government agency studying the issue. CPSC’s October, 2011 report – issued almost 5 months before the HealthyStuff.org report – established that cadmium content is not proportional to potential exposure. For that reason, CPSC recommended migration testing as the preferred option for assessing potential risks.
The HealthyStuff.org report also confounds children and adult products. Children’s and adult products have different compliance standards for good reason: different pathways to possible exposure. By failing to mention CPSC’s recommendations or to make appropriate distinctions between products for children and products for adults, Healthystuff.org does a great disservice to the public and to the jewelry industry. We expect better from organizations that say they have the best interests of consumers at heart.