Friday, June 11, 2010

CPSIA - Cadmium Crisis Explained

Scratching your head about the mounting crisis over cadmium? Let's see, the CPSC declares the Shrek glasses "not toxic" but still pushes for a recall of these safe products "in an abundance of caution". Apparently, the CPSC either believes that perfectly safe products should be recalled in an abundance of caution or that they themselves can't figure out what's "dangerous" anymore. Not a single article or a single person to my knowledge has identified a single injury caused by cadmium in a consumer product - EVER.

[Oops, SORRY, there is a consumer product closely associated with cadmium intake: " Tobacco smoking is the most important single source of cadmium exposure in the general population. . . . The absorption of cadmium from the lungs is much more effective than that from the gut, and as much as 50% of the cadmium inhaled via cigarette smoke may be absorbed. On average, smokers have 4-5 times higher blood cadmium concentrations and 2-3 times higher kidney cadmium concentrations than non-smokers. . . . No significant effect on blood cadmium concentrations could be detected in children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke." Time to stop smoking, guys - that's big news, apparently.]

Of course, we shouldn't ignore the fact that the people who are terrorizing America over cadmium are the very same people who are pushing for deep and invasive regulation of all chemicals throughout our society. It's the anti-chemicals crowd behind the cadmium panic. Mr. Waxman's big goal is the reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Arguably, the CPSIA is the opening shot in his TSCA battle, which explains his utter intransigence in the face of well-documented catastrophes caused by the CPSIA. Cadmium is perfect for that purpose, especially since no one seems to understand the nature of the threat. Just mention cadmium and "bone softening" and the media and politicians melt.

Anyhow, I was wondering how cadmium became so scary. I realize that cadmium is dangerous under certain limited circumstances - but so are many other things that Americans like to use, such as fire, water . . . and guns. It is obviously time for some research. To help you out, I have provided many useful links below. The history of cadmium is VERY revealing. Here's what I found out:

The discovery of cadmium came long after Rachel Weintraub and Henry Waxman attended school. Back in the olde days when they were educated, the Periodic Table had a different look:

In those days, when chemistry teachers taught the periodic table, position 48 was known as Puppy Dogs. Chemistry instructors typically explained that this element was responsible for sunshine, candy, love and (of course) puppy dogs. Everything that was good and sweet in our idyllic lives were attributable to Puppy Dogs. Element 48, also known as "Smiley Face", was always the element children liked best. Most lessons were taught staring dreamily out the window at the playground, watching small children frolic and play. Puppy Dogs was good stuff.

The role of Puppy Dogs in our lives and the American Way was a foundation belief in the scientific community for many years.

Later, science took a dark turn. In 2007, scientists in Congress discovered to their horror that lead (Pb) was not only present on the periodic table just two squares away from Puppy Dogs but that lead was a contaminant in certain consumer products. At this time, science had not advanced far enough for Congressional scientists to know that lead has been on the Earth since creation and is found in everything including our food, water and air. Once Congressional scientists were able to detect trace levels of lead in consumer products, a specialist in the Top Secret Congressional Skunk Works connected the dots - "What about kids? If they play with Puppy Dogs, it's just two squares away from LEAD!" This is what prompted passage of the CPSIA.

Am I being too science-y? Sorry.

As you know, science marches on and in a very recent 2010 development, scientists at the Consumer Federation of America, led by Rachel Weintraub, and at the CPSC discovered that Puppy Dogs was actually NOT the 48th element. After urgent research into how sunlight was created if not by Puppy Dogs, cadmium was discovered accidentally when someone pulled on their earlobe while deep in thought.

Here's what Wikipedia says about this Nobel Prize winning discovery:

"Cadmium is a chemical element with the symbol Cd and atomic number 48. Cadmium represents a low point in American science education. In a little known provision of the "Treaty of the Meter" signed by the United States in 1878 signalling the promising beginning of the metric movement in our country, the 48th position of the periodic table was deemed to be a Smiley Face and called "Puppy Dogs". American science, never questioning this regulation, eventually traced the origins of sunshine and love back to this phantom element. In early 2010, scientists at the U.S. House of Representatives noticed that lead (Pb) was located near Puppy Dogs on the periodic table, and in a rapid series of science-y experiments, determined that Puppy Dogs was actually a soft, bluish-white metal chemically similar to the two other metals in group 12, zinc and mercury. Frighteningly, experiments have determined that cadmium, if dumped into a river in massive quantities as mining run-off over a period of decades, will cause bone softening in nearby populations ("Ouch-Ouch Sickness" is also known as one of the Four Big Pollution Diseases of Japan)."

So that brings you up-to-date on cadmium, bone softening and toxicity. I hope this helps you understand why your Congress and the CPSC are trying to save you from dangerous cadmium. Apparently, you need a lot of "saving". In my case, I am just going to stop drinking from rivers downstream from WWII mining operations in Japan. That should probably be enough protection for me.


Eric H said...

Yes, but how does it taste?

Anonymous said...

The links in this blog are fantastic, the CPSC could learn from this type of research before speaking...

Anonymous said...

Like chicken.

Anonymous said...

And oh . . . it was so nice when we all knew how happy we were!

No monsters lurking under the bed and on the glasses ... we were So healthy and happy! (a merry heart does good like medicine and all that).

bre said...

I am a middle school teacher in NC and came across your site while researching some information about the periodic table for my chemistry class this year. I just wanted to thank you for the great information.

We would love it if you could write a few articles for us, but I understand if your busy so a link to some of the current articles would be very helpful as well to help us spread trusted resources to other teachers. I have included a link to our page about cadmium and its toxic effects in case you would like to help us out by linking to it, tweeting it, or adding it to your Facebook profile.

Thanks and keep the great resources coming

Bre Matthews