Oh, we all thought we were so clever, buying cheap but cute necklaces and colorful bracelets at places like Forever 21, Target, and Claire's. Sure they might make our outfits look better for a very low price, but it turns out these pieces of crappy jewelry might also be poisoning us. Grr. Looks like it's time to admit that deep down, we knew it was too good to be true.
A non-profit organization called The Ecology Center ran tests on 99 pieces of jewelry (some of which was geared toward children but most of it was for adults) that were purchased from 14 different discount stores such from around the country, like Target, Claire's, Glitter, Forever 21, Walmart, H&M, and Hot Topic. They checked each piece for dangerous things like lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, brominated flame retardants, chlorine, mercury and arsenic. And, surprise, surprise, lots of the jewelry was full of nasty stuff.
Over half of the jewelry, all of which cost less than ten dollars, had high levels of these hazardous chemicals, including 27 of the pieces which had lead levels which exceeded the 300 ppm limit for children's products. Ninety percent of the pieces had chromium and nickel, which can cause allergic reactions, and ten percent of the pieces had cadmium, which is a toxic metal that's been the subject of other jewelry and toy recalls. Some of the most toxic pieces they found included, "Claire's Gold 8 Bracelet Set, Walmart's Silver Star Bracelet, Target's Silver Charm Necklace, and Forever 21's Long Pearl Flower Necklace." Take a quick scan of the jewelry you've got on to make sure none of these poisonous gems are making contact with your fragile epidermis as your read this.
It may come as some comfort to you that wearing this contaminated jewelry is far less dangerous than eating it. How might you come to eat a necklace? Well, these things are cheap, and they break and chip easily. So you might ingest it if you start absent-mindedly gnawing on your necklace while trying to concentrate during a meeting or class. But the bigger danger is really that a child might somehow eat a broken piece of it or bite something that you're wearing. There's also the problem of the brominated flame retardants, which are usually sprayed onto jewelry and can rub off onto your skin or be inhaled. That is bad because the compound used is a known hormone disrupter—definitely not the best accessory one can think of.
Jewelry sold specifically for children is required to meet safety standards, but adult jewelry is not—even though it can still be ingested or rubbed the wrong way by adults or children. Since this report has been released, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into it. They're planning to pick up samples of the jewelry and test it themselves. But, unless they come up with some foolproof way to test every piece of jewelry on sale, you're probably better off skipping the super cheap jewelry in favor of a more bare, but significantly less carcinogenic neckline.
Costume jewelry found to have high levels of toxins and carcinogens, tests show [CBS News]
Image via Vaskevich Anna/Shutterstock.