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ASTM Approves Children’s Jewelry Safety Standard for Cadmium Limits

ASTM International, one of the largest organizations in the world dedicated to setting standards, has approved a national safety standard for cadmium content in children’s jewelry. The standard, titled "ASTM F2923 Specification for Consumer Product Safety for Children’s Jewelry," was developed by the ASTM F 15.24 Subcommittee on Children’s Jewelry (in which MJSA participated). It covers jewelry—both fine and fashion jewelry—intended primarily for use by children age 12 and under.

The standard calls for jewelry makers and suppliers to screen metal or plastic components of jewelry for the total weight of cadmium they contain. If the weight exceeds the trace amount of 300 parts per million (ppm), jewelry samples should undergo a second round of testing that would involve either a "migration test," to determine how much cadmium might leach out if the jewelry is swallowed, or a saline test, which simulates what would occur if a child mouths or sucks on the jewelry. The extracted cadmium would not be allowed to exceed 200 μg (micrograms) in the migration test or 18 μg (micrograms) in the saline test.

The additional migration testing was recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which also participated in the ASTM F 15.24.

"MJSA welcomes ASTM’s approval of this new standard," says MJSA President and CEO David W. Cochran. "The cadmium screening test protects children’s safety, first and foremost, but it also addresses many other safety issues."

The staff of CPSC, in a recent briefing package, acknowledged the standard as including an appropriate measure for reducing children’s risk of harm from exposure to cadmium in jewelry designed for them. Though the standard is voluntary, ASTM standards are often later cited in federal regulations.

The ASTM F 15.24 Subcommittee on Children’s Jewelry was chaired by Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association (FJATA) Executive Director Brent Cleaveland; it also included experts from the CPSC, testing labs, consumers’ rights groups, and other industry associations. In a press release welcoming the approval of the standard, Cleaveland announced that FJATA will be meeting with CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and ASTM subcommittee members in December to address educational outreach. FJATA also plans to meet with state legislators to explain the standard’s requirements and to promote harmonization with existing state laws. To date, five states have signed into law cadmium limits on children’s jewelry, and the limits and testing requirements conflict from state to state.

If the ASTM standard were to become embedded in federal law, however, the limits and tests for cadmium within it would likely pre-empt the state laws, eliminating what has become a confusing patchwork of regulation. Jewelry makers and suppliers already testing children’s jewelry for total-weight lead content, as per the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, could then easily incorporate the cadmium requirements into their procedures at little extra cost or time, according to labs that currently perform these tests.

The CPSC has been independently studying the issue of cadmium in children’s jewelry since a January 2010 Associated Press report brought the topic to its attention. The Commission announced five recalls of children’s jewelry due to cadmium content during 2010, and has been considering the issue of exactly what trace amounts of cadmium are safe in children’s jewelry ever since. In September 2011, the CPSC commissioners voted to direct its staff to begin drafting a proposed rule restricting cadmium, especially in children’s metal jewelry, unless a voluntary standard for cadmium in children’s jewelry was published by ASTM within three months after Sept. 16, 2011. Since the voluntary standard has now been published, the CPSC staff will begin to assess whether there is substantial compliance within the industry.

The ASTM F2923 Specification for Consumer Product Safety for Children’s Jewelry can be obtained at http://www.astm.org/Standards/F2923.htm, or via ASTM Customer Relations at 1-610-832-9585, service@astm.org. Cost for the standard is $46.

For more information and background on the issue of cadmium in children’s jewelry, MJSA has published a Guide to Cadmium in Jewelry, available online to its members in the Public Affairs area.

Key unlocking resourcesMJSA Members: To review the members-only MJSA Guide to Cadmium in Jewelry, click here. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll be asked to enter your login code and password.

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