There is no definitive explanation for why children’s jewelry manufacturers, virtually all from China in the items tested, are turning to cadmium. But a reasonable double whammy looms: With lead heavily regulated under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, factories scrambled for substitutes, just as cadmium prices plummeted.
Xu Hongli, a cadmium specialist with the Beijing office of Asian Metal, a market research and consultancy firm, said test results showing high cadmium levels in some Chinese-made metal jewelry did not surprise her.
Using cadmium alloys has been “a relatively common practice” among manufacturers in Yiwu, Qingdao and Sichuan Province, Xu said.
“Some of their products contain 90 percent cadmium or higher,” she said. “Usually, though, they are more careful with export products.”