Saturday, February 6, 2010

CPSIA - Let's Play a Cadmium Game!

We all know that cadmium is dangerous. After all, the Associated Press and seven Senators told us so. I have asked the innocent question - if cadmium is so dangerous that we absolutely cannot tolerate it in jewelry, what else is similarly dangerous? We have a business making children's products so it's important that we understand this critical question, right?

At this point, other than whatever the AP decides to print tomorrow, we know that anything with lead is really dangerous. The CPSC, following orders, determined that palladium, rhodium, osmium, iridium and ruthenium are safe. They blessed these materials for inclusion in children's products in August 2009 so they must be safe, right? Here's what the CPSC said: "In addition, in the proposed rule, the Commission preliminarily determined that certain metals and alloys did not exceed the lead content limits under section 101(a) of the CPSIA provided that no lead or lead-containing metal is intentionally added. The metals and alloys considered included surgical steel, precious metals such as gold (at least 10 karat); sterling silver (at least 925/1000); platinum; palladium; rhodium; osmium; iridium; ruthenium."

So here's the game: match the following statements from Wikipedia about these elements with the element itself. [To verify my quotes, just go to Wikipedia and search for the element.]
  1. Cadmium
  2. Palladium
  3. Rhodium
  4. Osmium
  5. Iridium
  6. Ruthenium

A. "[This element] reacts with oxygen at room temperature forming volatile [element] tetroxide. . . . [Element] tetroxide is highly volatile and penetrates skin readily, and is very toxic by inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact."

B. "[This element] is also a potential environmental hazard. Human exposures to environmental [element] are primarily the result of the burning of fossil fuels and municipal wastes. However, there have been notable instances of toxicity as the result of long-term exposure to [this element] in contaminated food and water."

C. "[This element] chloride was at one time prescribed as a tuberculosis treatment at the rate of 0.065 g per day (approximately one milligram per kilogram of body weight). This treatment did have many negative side-effects, and was later replaced by more effective drugs."

D. "The compound [element tetroxide] similar to [XXX] tetroxide, is volatile, highly toxic and may cause explosions if allowed to come into contact with combustible materials. [This element] plays no biological role but does strongly stain human skin, may be carcinogenic and bio-accumulates in bone."

E. "[C]hemical complexes of [this element] can be reactive. Lethal intake for rats is 12.6 mg/kg of [element chloride] [This element] compounds can strongly stain human skin. The element plays no biological role in humans."

F. "Very little is known about the toxicity of [this element's] compounds because they are used in very small amounts, but soluble salts, such as the [element] halides, could be hazardous due to elements other than [element] or due to [the element] itself."

It's good to know that only one of these items is considered dangerous. I feel safer already!

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