Lead and cadmium in children’s jewellery

You might be surprised to know that your child’s jewellery can be dangerous. While there is no known risk associated with wearing jewellery that contains lead and cadmium, sucking, chewing on or swallowing it may cause very serious health effects for children. Jewellery that is painted or has a top coating does not make it safer for children: the coating can be chewed or worn off.

Health Canada has found children’s jewellery items that contained high levels of lead and cadmium for sale in Canada.

Children’s jewelry may contain lead or cadmium due to various reasons, including the use of contaminated materials, improper manufacturing processes, or inadequate safety standards. Lead can be present in metal alloys used to make jewelry, while cadmium is sometimes used as a cheap substitute for other metals.

Lead and cadmium are toxic heavy metals

Lead and cadmium are toxic heavy metals that can be found in certain children’s jewelry. Here’s some information about lead and cadmium in children’s jewelry and their potential health risks.


Lead is a soft, inexpensive metal often used in making costume jewellery. Wearing jewellery containing lead does not cause harm – but sucking, chewing on or swallowing it can cause many harmful effects to children’s bodies, including death. One of the big challenges with lead is that it has a sweet taste, which can encourage kids to put it in their mouths.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that can affect multiple organs and systems in the body, particularly in children. Lead exposure can cause developmental and neurological problems, including impaired cognitive function, learning difficulties, and behavioral issues. Young children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning as their bodies absorb lead more easily than adults.


Cadmium is another toxic heavy metal that can be present in children’s jewelry, particularly in inexpensive metal jewelry. Cadmium exposure can have harmful effects on various organs, including the kidneys and bones. It is also classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).


Protecting children

In Canada, it is illegal to import, advertise or sell jewellery designed for children under 15 years of age if it contains more than the allowable lead or cadmium limits set out in Canadian regulations.

To protect children from the potential health risks associated with lead and cadmium in jewelry, several measures have been put in place:

  1. Regulatory standards: Many countries have established regulations and standards to limit the levels of lead and cadmium in children’s jewelry. These regulations aim to ensure that jewelry intended for children meets specific safety requirements.
  2. Testing and certification: Jewelry manufacturers and importers may conduct testing to ensure compliance with safety standards. Certified jewelry is often labeled as meeting safety requirements, providing consumers with assurance of its safety.
  3. Consumer awareness: Parents and caregivers should be aware of the potential risks associated with lead and cadmium in children’s jewelry. It is important to choose jewelry from reputable sources and look for certification or compliance with safety standards.
  4. Regular inspection: Parents should regularly inspect children’s jewelry for signs of wear, damage, or deterioration. If jewelry becomes worn or broken, it can increase the risk of metal exposure. Discard any jewelry that shows signs of damage or contains high levels of lead or cadmium.
Safety tips

To ensure the safety of children’s jewelry, it is recommended to:

  • Don’t let children suck or chew on any jewellery.
  • If your child has sucked or chewed regularly on jewellery and you think it may contain lead or cadmium, ask your doctor to test your child’s blood.
  • Look for age-appropriate jewelry and avoid items with small detachable parts.
  • Inspect jewelry regularly for any signs of damage or wear. Keep in mind that items made with a high percentage of lead are heavy for their size.
  • Educate children about the proper use and care of jewelry, including not putting it in their mouths.
  • Supervise young children when they are wearing jewelry to prevent accidents or ingestion.
  • If you are concerned that a children’s jewellery item may contain lead or cadmium throw it away without any doubts
  • Do not give young children adult jewellery to wear or play with; it may contain lead or cadmium.
  • Check for product recalls by contacting the retailer or manufacturer or check recalls and safety alerts.
  • Purchase jewelry from reputable sources that prioritize safety and comply with relevant safety standards.

By taking these precautions, you can help minimize the potential risks associated with children’s jewelry and ensure their safety.

Ensuring the safety of children’s jewelry is a collective effort involving manufacturers, regulatory bodies, retailers, and consumers. By being vigilant and making informed choices, we can reduce the risk of exposure to lead and cadmium for children.

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