Why Was Walmart Selling Kids’ Jewelry That Contains Cadmium?

In this Dec. 17, 2009 photo, a computer screen shows a "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" charm in Ashland, Ohio. Barred from using lead in children’s jewelry because of its toxicity, some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium in sparkling charm bracelets and shiny pendants being sold throughout the United States, an Associated Press investigation shows. 

I am not a fan of Walmart, as I mentioned the other day. Today we learn of yet another reason not to trust the retailer.

From the Chicago Tribune (emphasis added) :

China’s product safety agency will look into findings that dangerous levels of cadmium are being used in exports of children’s jewelry, a Chinese official said Tuesday following growing concern in the United States about the products.

Attending a toy safety conference in Hong Kong, the official said that his agency only just learned of findings in an Associated Press investigation published Sunday and would examine the findings on cadmium contamination.

"We just heard about this, and we will investigate," said Wang Xin, a director general for the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Though Wang does not have the authority to order a full-bore inquiry, his comments were the government’s first on the matter and show China’s nervousness about potential troubles in the U.S., the biggest Chinese export market.

On Monday, retail giant Walmart pulled products cited in the AP report from its stores in the U.S. The attorney general ofConnecticut promised to investigate suspect costume jewelry. A New York state legislator called for a ban on the sale of children’s jewelry with cadmium in the state. The top U.S. consumer safety regulator warned Asian manufacturers that cadmium and other toxins must be kept out of children’s charm bracelets, pendants and other baubles.

Lab tests conducted for the AP on 103 pieces of low-priced children’s jewelry on sale in the U.S. found 12 items with raised levels of cadmium, which can hinder brain development in young children, according to recent research, and is known to cause cancer.

Where is the quality control on Walmart’s end? Does Walmart have any standards for products it sells in its stores? Does Walmart do any independent product testing? Did Walmart pull the products because they got caught? Does Walmart have quality standards for what it sells, or do they just sell whatever comes cheap from overseas?

Read more at the Tribune.