Cadmium is a heavy metal used as a stabilizer in PVC and in coatings and pigments in plastic and paint (ATSDR 2012).

Health Effects

Depending on the level of exposure, cadmium has been linked to:

  • Cadmium exposure is associated in animal studies with developmental effects, including possible decreases in birth weight, delayed sensory-motor development, hormonal effects, and altered behavior (Schantz 2001).
  • Cadmium can cause adverse effects on the kidney, lung and intestines (ATSDR 2012 ).
  • Cadmium is classified as a known human carcinogen, associated with lung and prostate cancer. (Huff 2007).
  • Exposure to cadmium can result in bone loss and increased blood pressure (Arora, et al 2009).
  • Acute toxicity from ingestion of high levels of cadmium can result in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and death (Gilbert 2004).
  • Acute toxicity from inhalation of high levels of cadmium can result in symptoms similar to metal fume fever and severe gastroenteritis from high levels of cadmium ingestion (ATSDR 2011).

Current Regulations for Products

  • The European Union restricts cadmium in plastics, including PVC, and in electronic products such as toys (European Union 2003).
  • Nineteen states limit cadmium in packaging materials, such as shopping bags and product wrappings (TPCH 2007,PDF ).
  • The toy industry has established a voluntary migration standards (EN 71 and NCSL 2014) for the amount of cadmium that can migrate from toys of 75 ppm.
  • On February 10, 2009 the CPSIA adopted the ASTM F973-07 limits for cadmium and other metals(view ASTM standard) as a mandatory standard.
  • California restricts the amount of soluble cadmium that can be in the coatings of certain consumer products (DTSC 2008).
  • Washington limits the amount of cadmium allowable in children's products and components of such products (ECY 2008).

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