A review article published on December 10, 2018, in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment, provides an overview of “occurrence and distribution of Cd [(cadmium)] among consumer products,” with a focus on “brightly-colored Cd sulfide and sulfoselenide pigments, and measurements of Cd in historical and contemporary products.”  

Andrew Turner from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, UK, summarizes that Cd “is a toxic heavy metal that has been increasingly regulated over the past few decades.” While the two main non-occupational exposure routes are “the consumption of certain foods and the inhalation of cigarette smoke,” there are several additional exposure sources that could also be significant.  

For example, low levels of Cd (< 100 µg/g) are “encountered across a wide range of contemporary plastic products, mainly because of the unregulated recycling of electronic waste and polyvinyl chloride.” Higher concentrations (up to 2% by weight) have been found in some old “children’s toys that remain in circulation.” Cd is also used in ceramic products, where it is, however, “encapsulated and overglazed.” Leaching tests on new and old ceramic products “indicate compliance with respect to the current Cd limit of 300 µg/L.” However, shall a proposed limit of 5 µg/L be introduced, then “non-compliance could occur,” for example, for damaged articles. 

Among all Cd exposure sources, “the greatest consumer risk identified is the use of Cd pigments in the enamels of decorated drinking glasses,” Turner further informs. He explains that, although decoration is “restricted to the exterior, any enamel within the lip area is subject to ready attack from acidic beverages because the pigments are neither encapsulated nor overglazed.” In addition, although “decorated glass bottles do not appear to represent a direct health hazard,” they “have the propensity to contaminate recycled glass products.”  

Turner concludes by urging for a “better regulation” of decorated glassware. 

Read more

Neil Shaw (December 19, 2018). “Cancer-causing chemical found in toys, says Plymouth university.Plymouth Live


Andrew Turner (2018). “Cadmium pigments in consumer products and their health risks.” Science of the Total Environment (published December 10, 2018).