BEIJING (AP) — Product safety officials in China are investigating jewelry makers and warning them against using cadmium after high levels of the cancer-causing metal were found in Chinese-made children's trinkets sold in the United States.
Product safety watchdogs in several Chinese cities have told jewelry manufacturers they will be shut down if their products are found to contain cadmium, though none reached Wednesday would say whether they had found any cadmium products or closed any factories.
The campaign follows an emergency alert by China's top product safety watchdog, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, that was issued Jan. 22 and ordered officials around the country to stamp out the use of cadmium in jewelry.
Cadmium emerged as a safety concern earlier this year after an investigation by The Associated Press revealed that lab tests conducted on 103 pieces of low-priced children's jewelry found 12 items with cadmium content above 10 percent of the total weight. All were made in China. Two of the products tested have since been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Safety authorities in at least 10 Chinese cities or provinces have posted cadmium warnings on their Web sites over the past two months: the northern municipality of Tianjin, two cities in eastern Jiangsu province, two cities in the southern province of Hubei, and others in Gansu, Fujian, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Shandong provinces.
Zhu Mingdao, vice director of the Jiangyin Entry and Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau in Jiangsu, was shown inspecting a toy metal tiara in a photo posted on the bureau's Web site. The bureau said Zhu was collecting imitation jewelry to have it tested for cadmium and ordering businesses to declare all their raw material suppliers to his agency.
A woman who answered the phone at the Jiangyin bureau on Wednesday refused to answer questions about the crackdown and referred calls to the top product safety watchdog in Beijing.
The top watchdog asked that questions about the campaign be submitted by fax but did not immediately respond.
Officials with the Entry and Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureaus in Fujian province's Xiamen city and Jiangsu's Kunshan city also refused to discuss the crackdown.
Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.