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Jewelry Makers Given Three Months by U.S. to Set Cadmium Limits

By Jeff Plungis
September 16, 2011 11:09 AM EDT

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said it will write regulations to limit cadmium content in children’s jewelry if the industry doesn’t act to police itself by Dec. 16.

The CPSC, which regulates household products ranging from toys to lawn mowers, issued the warning in a Federal Register notice today. The agency also granted a petition from four consumer groups asking that cadmium, a toxic metal which can lead to liver and kidney damage if ingested, be banned unless a safe level can be established.

The move comes as congressional Republicans have focused on regulations as a barrier to reducing unemployment. The Obama administration last month said it would eliminate unneeded rules to save businesses $10 billion over five years.

The CPSC directed its staff to begin working on a regulation unless ASTM International Inc., a private-industry standard-setter, acts in the next three months. The staff should also determine whether companies are complying with voluntary commitments within the next nine months, according to the notice.

Last October, after receiving the petition from the Sierra Club and three other consumer groups, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said retailers and manufacturers needed to act “to protect the health and safety of consumers.”

The consumer groups described a “rising tide of cadmium” in children’s products as manufacturers sought a “cheap, unregulated alternative to lead,” which is already subject to CPSC limits. The Oakland, California-based Center for Environmental Health and two Rochester, New York-based consumer groups joined the Sierra Club in the request.

Dress Barn Inc. (DBRN) and Claire’s Stores Inc. recalled necklaces, earrings and bracelets last year after finding cadmium. McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) offered $3 refunds to customers who bought “Shrek” drinking glasses with high levels of cadmium in the paint. The products involved in all three recalls were made in China.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at jplungis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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