Cadmium in Jewelry: the Negative Health Effects of Cadmium

For many years, jewelry has been a staple accessory to complete any outfit. People wear it since ancient times to express social status, power, beauty, religion, wealth, and more. Today, jewelry has become an investment piece, especially for women. A woman’s typical jewelry collection varies from diamond rings, gold bracelets, animal necklaces, and other fancy pieces.

To make a fine piece, jewelers use precious metals to increase a jewel’s value. Everyone is likely familiar with silver, gold, and platinum as traditional jewelry materials. But have you heard about cadmium? Cadmium is a cheap metal, often added as a filler in jewelry pieces or processed entirely to create a new jewelry piece.

For jewelry lovers, cadmium jewelry is certainly something you should know more about. Cadmium comes with negative health effects, which jewelry makers should avoid using. With that in mind, this article will talk about the harmful effects of cadmium jewelry and how to avoid exposure.

Why cadmium?

For jewelry makers, cadmium comes with incredible metal properties that make a great combination when added to other metals in making jewelry. Once combined with other precious metals, it becomes a metal alloy that enhances the durability and strength of a jewelry piece. Since most people wear jewelry daily, it makes more sense to create durable pieces that will not easily break or diminish in quality because of everyday use.

Besides its strength, cadmium is extremely affordable and quite abundant, making it easy for industries to source the material. As a result, cadmium becomes a common component added to kid’s jewelry. Companies find it reasonable since parents find it practical to buy cheaper jewelry for their children, as they will probably lose it after playing for a few rounds.

But cadmium is not just present in children’s cheap jewelry. Cadmium is also present in adult jewelry sold in popular chain stores, such as Papaya, Nordstrom Rack, and Ross.

Health effects of cadmium

While there are plenty of pleasant things about cadmium, it also comes with several downsides. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, exposure to cadmium leads to adverse health effects, such as cancer.

Inhalation of high cadmium levels over a short period results in lung damage and flu-like symptoms, such as muscle pain, fever, and chills. Meanwhile, low-level exposure over long periods leads to cancer, lung, bone, and kidney disease.

For example, if you are wearing a single necklace made of cadmium for over 10 years, you are likely prone to cancer, which can cause damaging effects to your reproductive system. In fact, another research revealed cadmium exposure triggers endocrine-disrupting effects that may cause damage to hormones.

But if jewelry companies are aware of cadmium's harmful effects, why are they still using it in jewelry making? The problem arises in the lack of state regulations in terms of using cadmium in manufacturing jewelry. Although a few states enacted previous regulations about cadmium usage, most of them are not making efforts when it comes to enforcement. ;

How to avoid cadmium jewelry?

Chronic exposure to cadmium is an easy route to acquire cadmium’s harmful effects, including wearing cadmium-filled jewelry. Meanwhile, children get exposed to it once they play, chew, suck, or swallow any material made of cadmium.

But how do we know which jewelry pieces contain cadmium and the ones that don’t? Unfortunately, there’s no quick way to tell if a piece of jewelry contains cadmium. Simply looking at it is not enough since most jewelers withhold any information involving cadmium in jewelry. But if you suspect possible exposure to cadmium, you need to get your blood or urine tested for cadmium.

Medical experts suggest avoiding buying jewelry in chain stores that are reported to sell cadmium. You may also consider buying quality jewelry instead of cheap ones. Jewelers often add cadmium to pieces to lower the price point.

If you are planning to invest in jewelry, make quality your top priority. Buy expensive yet versatile pieces that you can match with different outfits. For children, twine, silicone, and wooden beads make great alternatives as bracelets and necklaces with no harmful material present. If you suspect jewelry pieces containing cadmium, take them to a jewelry laboratory to test them for you.

Cadmium is making jewelry companies rich, but they are only harming their buyers by including dangerous heavy metals that cause negative effects on health. As much as possible, limit exposure to any cheap jewelry piece containing cadmium. Be a smart buyer and always ask the right questions when sourcing jewelry.

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