Toxic toys. Toxic drywall. Today it’s toxic jewelry from China. The Associated Press is reporting it conducted its own tests on a number of jewelry items purchased at Wal-Mart, Claire’s and other retailers and found significant amounts of cadmium in them. The heavy metal is a known carcinogen and is linked — like lead — to brain damage in young children.
According to the AP, the items could be categorized as hazardous waste if a factory tried to put them in a dumpster, but there are no standards for jewelry, so children can wear them around their necks, toy with them, maybe put them in their mouths and suck on them without any cautions from the government.
It’s easy to slam China for these situations, but the real issue is “buyer beware.” This is a great example of the hidden cost behind a low “per piece” price. More and more, companies are being held accountable for the full length of their supply chains — and often for the life and disposal of their products as well. It’s harder than ever to shift the blame to a supplier, and almost impossible to shift the cost to a reputation when your product is considered a threat to children.
There are excellent products coming from China and other low-cost country sources. There are even product innovations and improvements in quality where once we could only expect low prices on copycat designs. The cadmium alert simply reminds us to evaluate risks and other factors on every individual purchase we make.