by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
When you’re shopping for toys for your child, you’re careful to select ones that are age-appropriate and free from lead, BPA, or small parts that may cause choking.
But you may have never thought of the risk of a toxic metal called cadmium.
Cadmium is a very inexpensive heavy metal, and very dangerous to your child’s health. Unlike other metals, cadmium bio-accumulates in your child’s body, concentrating over a period of years and even decades before symptoms are observed.
Avoid These High-Risk Toys
- Cheap Jewelry
If your child is a fan of jewelry, take caution. Cheap jewelry made in China has been shown to contain up to 91% cadmium. Investigate jewelry carefully before purchasing, especially if the purchases are coming from Wal-Mart, Target or Claire’s. In 2010, “Miley Cyrus” and “The Princess and the Frog” jewelry were recalled due to excessive levels of cadmium.
- “Happy Meal” Toys
If you visit drive-thru windows often, there are more dangers to your health than what can be found in the food. For example, in 2010, “Shrek” drinking glasses given away in children’s meals were recalled because they contained cadmium. Any toys given away for free with a meal likely will contain high amounts of toxins and should be avoided (as should fast food restaurants).
NiCd batteries made for small electronics are nickel-cadmium based. Do not allow children to change these types of batteries and if you’re using them, wear gloves to protect yourself as well.
- Children’s Clothes
Children’s clothing made in China may pose a health risk to your child due to cadmium. To reduce chances of exposure, wash new articles of clothing before allowing your child to wear them. You may also further reduce this risk by purchasing gently-used clothing from consignment shops.
Inexpensive children’s furniture can pose a cadmium exposure risk as paint is often a hidden source. When choosing furniture, select BPA-free plastic pieces. If you are unsure, contact the manufacturer to inquire about cadmium.
- Art Supplies
Art supplies, especially paint, may also contain toxic cadmium. Read labels carefully or contact the manufacturer to be sure your child’s art supplies are safe to use.
Health Dangers of Toxic Cadmium
Cadmium is a carcinogen that can enter your child’s body orally, through the skin or the respiratory system. Jewelry can easily find its way into your child’s mouth. Cadmium also can be absorbed into the skin by wearing jewelry or clothing contaminated with it. If your child is using art supplies containing this toxic metal, he or she will inhale it.
Cadmium has been shown to trigger early onset puberty, which increases your child’s risk of breast cancer later in life. It has also been shown to have neurotoxic effects, emphysema, osteoporosis, and kidney failure.
Signs of Cadmium Poisoning in Your Child
The most dangerous aspect of cadmium toxicity is it often takes years or even decades for the effects to be seen.
However, if your child is very sensitive or exposure has been excessively high, the following symptoms may result:
- Nausea, Vomiting, or Diarrhea
- Metallic Mouth Taste
- Persistent Headache
- Loss of Sense of Smell
- Pain in the Lower Back or Urinary Changes (Kidney Disease)
- Behavioral Changes
- Impaired Sensation
- Difficulty Breathing
Other Hidden Sources of Cadmium
Children’s toys aren’t the only source of cadmium you need to watch out for.
Cadmium can also be found in:
- Cigarette Smoke
Cadmium is at its highest levels in cigarette smoke. According to published studies, this toxic heavy metal has been shown to have a strong impact on male fertility as it lowers sperm count.
- Garden Fertilizers
If you garden at home, have your fertilizer and soil tested for cadmium. This toxic heavy metal can absorb into your skin and cause health problems over time.
Fungicides are often another source of cadmium.
- Ceramic and Glass Glazes
Take care to inspect ceramic and glass products made in China or Taiwan. They may contain cadmium.
- Well Water
Though well water is generally much healthier for you than city water, it could be contaminated with excessive levels of cadmium. Be sure to have your water tested regularly.
How to Test for Heavy Metal Toxicity
In modern society, we are so bombarded by toxic heavy metals, it is important to have periodic testing. I do a lot of heavy metal testing. As heavy metals are quickly absorbed into body organs, blood testing is not accurate, (with the exception of cases of acute exposure).
Virtually all cases involve chronic exposure. In my opinion, the best way to test for heavy metals is to do a hair analysis. Hair readily absorbs, and accumulates, heavy metals from the blood, including cadmium.
This is why I recommend the Hair Toxic Element Exposure Test by Doctor’s Data. When you order, Direct Labs will send you a test kit in a prepaid envelope. Just collect and send several small clips of hair and a report will then be sent directly to you and any doctor you authorize.
Depending on the level of heavy metal(s) found (and there is almost always more than one), a personalized detox program (involving chelation supplements, dietary changes and avoidance) will be designed to help you or your child get rid of the heavy metal.
Since avoiding all heavy metal exposure is impossible, it is important to do what you can to offset this exposure naturally. Eating a healthy diet filled with fiber and antioxidants will boost your immune system, protect you from heavy metal exposure, and decrease your risk for developing more serious disease.