A monthly focus on some of the hot topics in non-food consumer product recalls as listed on the EU websites RAPEX and RASFF as well as the US website of CPSC.
When it comes to jewellery cheap is not always cheerful. Recalls of jewellery due to the use of materials that can cause skin irritation or even worse may cause cancer, are more common than you may think. Cadmium, Nickel and Lead are the most common prohibited materials found in jewellery. With 12.1% it is number five on the list of non-compliant products due to chemical risks. XFR-scanning is a low-cost easy to operate technology that can detect these materials. Controlling the use of hazardous substances in products is necessary to protect the health of consumers but also for the workers in the supply chain. It is a point where social compliance meets product compliance.
Jewellery is one of the regulars in product recalls. A total of 54 notifications in 2018 alone. The main risk related to jewellery is long-term skin contact. Skin contact is one of the four routes that substances can follow to enter your body.
The most common materials found in jewellery that do not belong there are:
* Cadmium. Listed in REACH Annex XVII because it may cause cancer
* Nickel. Listed in REACH Annex XVII because it can cause allergic reactions
* Lead. Listed in REACH Annex XVII because it is harmful to human health, accumulates in the body and may damage the unborn child
The lowest threshold of Cadmium found for a recall was 0.025% by weight. The highest was 95%. A study by ECHA, the European CHemicals Agency, showed that Cadmium was found in 12.1% of 1134 tested jewellery placing it at number 5 in the listing of non-compliant products due to chemical risks. The others are:
#1 Phthalates, 19.7% of 464 tested toys.
#2 Cadmium in brazing fillers (welds), 14.1% of 86 tested mixtures
#3 Asbestos in articles, 13.6% of 213 tested products
#4 Chromium VI in leather articles, 13.3% of 467 tested products
What makes this so tricky is that the consumer won’t be able to notice the effects as they are long-term, except for the Nickel allergic rash. Not receiving complaints can be deceiving. Pro-active checking is a must. The heavy metals can be detected within seconds using a portable X-ray device called XRF scanner. XRF-scanning is a non-destructive test with low operating cost. One would assume that someone buying jewellery would like to know if they are paying for precious materials. That alone would be a good reason to add XRF testing to pre-shipment inspections. Controlling the use of hazardous substances in products is necessary to protect not only the health of consumers but also for the workers in the supply chain. Including workers involved in mining, transport and logistics, even staff in warehouses and stores. It is a points where social compliance meets product compliance.