Kathy Sanders waited until her 4-year-old daughter, Emma, was distracted with a video game Thursday. Then she made her move.
With the excuse that she needed to collect the laundry, Sanders sneaked upstairs and scooped up the jewelry that came with the Disney princess dressup set Emma had gotten for Christmas. Then she tossed it in the trash.
There have been lead scares, baby bottle scares and Christmas toy scares. And now, Sanders and other parents have something else to worry about: cadmium, which the nation’s product-safety chief warned this week could be present in cheap jewelry.
The warning came after The Associated Press reported that tests had showed high levels of cadmium in children’s jewelry imported from China. Like lead, cadmium can hinder brain development in children and even cause cancer, according to recent research.
It wasn’t clear if Emma’s new trinkets were dangerous, but Sanders, of Corfu, N.Y., wasn’t taking any chances. And she wasn’t alone.
In Chicago, Jennifer Seaver was planning to throw away all the cheap jewelry her 7-year-old, Julia, had amassed from goodie bags or gifts.
“I’m definitely only going to let her wear jewelry that’s gold or silver, that I buy her,” said Seaver, 38, who was shopping on Michigan Avenue. “I figure it’s an easy thing to avoid,” she said of the cadmium. “Those are all cheap things that can easily be thrown away.”
Seaver said she felt relatively calm about the warning from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s chairman, Inez Tenenbaum — perhaps because there had been so many scares in recent years. “Maybe because it happens so frequently, it makes me immune,” she said.
Others were angrier.
“When is America going to learn?” asked Theresa Savoie, a 53-year-old grandmother strolling through a mall in Gretna, La., with her 16-month-old grandson. “Everything you buy says ‘Made in China,’ and every time you turn around there’s another government warning.”