A variety of materials are used in the manufacturing of children’s jewelry, including metals, gemstones, plastics, and other natural and synthetic substances. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has outlined numerous federal safety regulations regarding the manufacturing and distribution of all children’s products, including children’s jewelry. Any jewelry manufactured for children must be in compliance with these standards, which regulate lead content in metal jewelry and paints. Any children’s jewelry that does not comply with federal standards is subject to a recall. According to the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), any metal jewelry that is found to contain toxic levels of lead is classified as a “hazardous substance” and is banned by law.
A piece of children’s jewelry may be found to be defective for many reasons. Recalls are typically issued if the jewelry contains unsafe amounts of lead or does not meet with CPSC safety regulations for children’s products, if the jewelry is found to contain small parts that easily detach and pose a choking hazard to young children, or if the jewelry contains sharp edges that present a laceration hazard. Children under the age of 12 are particularly susceptible to hazards associated with jewelry.
Metal jewelry can be especially dangerous to children if the metal contains unsafe levels of lead. Children may put their hands or fingers in their mouths after handling the jewelry, put the piece of jewelry in their mouths, or even ingest small pieces. Over time, these behaviors can lead to a dangerous buildup of lead in a child’s bloodstream. In the case of ingestion of the jewelry, acute lead poisoning could result.
The primary risks associated with children’s jewelry are choking from small parts or hazardous levels of lead in the materials.
In 2000, a total of 160 children under the age of 15 died from choking incidents. Almost 60 percent of these incidents were related to non-food objects.
In 2001, over 17,500 children under the age of 15 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for choking incidents. Non-food items accounted for 31 percent of these choking episodes.
High levels of lead can be directly associated with a number of neurological, behavioral, and learning disorders in children. A 2006 screening of more than 3 million children by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that roughly 7.5 percent of children screened had dangerously elevated lead levels in their bloodstream.
In 2006, a 4-year-old girl in Minnesota died as a result of acute lead poisoning after swallowing a piece from a metal bracelet.
Examples of defective jewelry that have been recalled include:
In 2009, approximately 29,000 of the “Chelsea’s” necklace and bracelet sets were recalled by D&D Distributing-Wholesale Inc., of Tacoma, Washington as a result of a choking hazard present in the construction. These sets contain small parts that can easily become detached from the string. Models involved in the recall include the “Shiny Heart” and “Crayon” necklace and bracelet Sets. Each set contains small, colored hearts or crayons on an elastic string. The sets contain one each of a bracelet and a necklace. These jewelry sets were sold from April 1999 to April 2009 in retail stores nationwide.
Action Products International Inc., of Ocala, Florida, recalled approximately 2,900 units of the Abalone and Venetian Carnevale necklace craft kits in the U.S., and another 36 units were recalled in Canada. The clasps in each kit do not meet with CPSC federal standards for lead content in children’s products. The kits were sold in both Canada and the U.S. between June 2007 and April 2009 at various retail stores.
In 2008, Aloha 808 Trading, of Honolulu, Hawaii, recalled approximately 12,800 units of metal jewelry as a result of high levels of lead. Included in the recall are eight different styles of jewelry, including miniature sandals in the colors of green, purple, orange, turquoise, and aqua, a necklace with a red flower and leaf pendant, a pendant with three flowers, and flower earrings. These pieces of metal jewelry were sold in Honolulu, Hawaii, between April 2008 and November 2008 at small retail stores.