It’s only natural to want the best for our kids. As parents, worrying about providing the safest environment for raising our sons and daughters comes with the territory. Daily, we modify our homes, vehicles, and toy boxes to eliminate potential hazards. In addition, we carefully seek nutritious foods and look for opportunities to enhance their learning. After all, it’s the loving thing to do. Unfortunately, in our efforts to protect our children, we may have overlooked a surprising danger that can impact their health and learning: children’s jewelry.
On the outside, our children’s jewelry looks innocent enough, but lurking inside may be surprising hidden dangers.
In the United States alone, over 180 million pieces of children’s jewelry have been recalled in recent years.
While the majority of us have already considered the possibility of strangulation or loose pieces catching on playground equipment or bus doors, the true dangers of children’s jewelry is hiding within the materials and harmful substances that were used during their manufacturing.
DANGERS FROM HEAVY METALS
Shockingly, manufacturers reduce cost and raise profitability by using cheap heavy metals to craft their children’s jewelry. Companies have been known to use high levels of lead, antimony, cadmium, and barium in a variety of jewelry pieces marketed for kids. To put this in perspective:
Testing uncovered that almost 25 percent of one Wal-mart’s kids’ jewelry was found to have lead levels that were over 300 times the approved amount.
Exposure to lead and heavy metals are known to cause severe health problems and learning delays in children.
In addition to toxic metals, companies often look to save money by utilizing cheap metals like nickel. Nickel is notorious for causing allergic reactions and contact dermatitis or rashes on skin that comes into contact with the jewelry for a good portion of our population. It often takes repeated exposure to nickel before an allergy forms, but once a person develops a nickel allergy they will always be sensitive to this metal and may have to avoid skin-to-skin contact in the future.
To make matters worse, many pieces of children’s jewelry contain small parts like magnets or button batteries which can be fatal if ingested.
Numerous items feature magnetic closures to make them easy to remove and batteries light up pieces with flashing or strobing lights. While these types of jewelry are fun and interesting, they can be deadly.
For instance, if multiple magnets are swallowed there is the potential they will stick together inside the bowels of a child’s body presenting a life threatening situation that requires surgery. Also, small button batteries can cause serious internal burns if swallowed.
8 ESSENTIAL JEWELRY SAFETY TIPS FOR PARENTS
It is disheartening to realize that our sons’ and daughters’ jewelry might be unknowingly posing serious health concerns, but there is hope. Even though, we can’t easily identify if jewelry is dangerous just by looking at a piece the following suggestions can help us reduce the costly risks of children’s jewelry:
● Always have children wash their hands after playing or wearing jewelry.
● Avoid metal jewelry that is under $10—these pieces are typically the most toxic offenders.
● Before naps or sleeping, remove all jewelry from a child.
● Clean out toy and jewelry boxes for older items that do not fit the current safety recommendations.
● Be wary of jewelry with batteries and ensure that batteries are always secure.
● Never leave small children unattended while wearing jewelry.
● Only purchase quality jewelry from reliable or eco-conscious suppliers.
● Frequently check for recalled items on the CPSC website.
What tips do you have to keep children safe around jewelry?
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. @AmyKWilliams1