America's product safety agency issued an unprecedented warning in January: Don't give your children cheap metal jewelry and, if your kids already have some, throw it away. Cheap jewelry from Communist China probably contains hazardous levels of heavy metals. Lab tests on 103 pieces of low-priced children's jewelry found that many of them had very high amounts of cadmium, a metal that can hinder brain development in young children and also cause cancer.
This warning about cadmium is much bigger than the alert that our Consumer Product Safety Commission issued several years ago about the Chinese putting high levels of lead in children's toys. This time, the target is not just some specific items but an entire industry. One U.S. Senator said, "It is just despicable that China would use something that's known to be poisonous to children and put it in children's jewelry to save a few bucks." The Chinese do this even though we all know that young children bite, suck or even swallow small items, and therefore would intake the poison.
Chinese factory owners bid extremely low, even so low that they have no profit, just win a sale. Once they get the business, they cut corners to create a profit margin and recover what they would lose with their low bid. Many of them create an elaborate invoice supposedly specifying the materials used in the product. However, the document doesn't have any teeth because there is no quality control staff to supervise its honesty, and the list may be a complete fabrication.
One consumer group published a list of warnings for parents who risk buying Chinese products for their children: don't buy costume jewelry; avoid toys with buttons, protruding eyes or small removable parts; avoid plastics; avoid children's fragrances and cosmetics. Better still, don't buy any Chinese products for children.
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