California Limits Cadmium In Kids' Jewelry

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Children's jewelry sold in California could not legally contain more than minuscule amounts of the toxic metal cadmium under a bill lawmakers approved Wednesday.

Cadmium is a known carcinogen that has drawn international attention this year following an investigation by The Associated Press that revealed some Chinese jewelry manufacturers were substituting it for lead, which federal law has effectively banned.

Lawmakers and public health officials worry that kids could suffer long-term poisoning if they suck on or bite jewelry containing cadmium, which also can harm kidneys and bones.

Under California's legislation, jewelry for kids 6 and under could not contain anything over three-hundredths of a percent of cadmium starting in 2012. One piece of jewelry tested during AP's investigation was 91 percent cadmium.

The state Senate passed SB929 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, on Wednesday. It was the bill's final hurdle before reaching the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who hasn't yet taken a position.

Three other states have enacted cadmum-in-jewelry laws this year.

The volume of goods sold in California means that without action at the federal level, the proposed limit would effectively become a new national standard.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is drafting new limits on cadmium, which are expected to be released in coming weeks. It's not clear, however, whether that standard will be enforced immediately or will go through an extended rule-making process.

The commission already has taken some action, including orchestrating recalls of necklaces and bracelets sold at national chain stores including Walmart and Claire's, and the teen-oriented stores Justice and Limited Too.

The Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association, which represents the U.S. industry, did not respond to a request for comment.

The group has argued that limiting the total amount of cadmium in jewelry is too strict an approach. Instead, its leaders argue that new rules should address how much cadmium can leach out of the jewelry, not how much cadmium the jewelry contains.

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