Legislation spurred by concerns about potentially toxic materials in jewelry — especially items bought for children — has cleared another hurdle in New Jersey. The bill would bar the sale, distribution, import or manufacture of jewelry that contains materials classified as unsafe. It also includes stricter restrictions on materials used in children’s jewelry and body piercing jewelry. Assembly members approved the measure by a 75-0 vote Thursday, sending it to the Senate. But it was not known when or if the Senate would consider the legislation.
Democrats Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. of South Plainfield and Paul Moriarty of Turnersville — the bill’s two primary sponsors — developed it after learning earlier this year that thousands of “The Princess and the Frog” pendants were being recalled due to high levels of the toxic metal cadmium.
Cadmium is a known carcinogen, particularly when inhaled in a factory or other workplace. It also can cause serious problems with kidneys and bones, diseases that typically are caused by cadmium that has been ingested in contaminated food or tobacco. The exact risks to adults aren’t clear because it typically takes long-term exposure to the metal to cause the diseases.
Children’s jewelry has been of particular concern because kids bite and suck on jewelry. Microscopic amounts of cadmium also could be shed onto the hands, and then ingested either by eating or putting a contaminated finger to the mouth.
“Buying a necklace or a charm bracelet shouldn’t bring about fears of lead and mercury poisoning, yet the health and safety of New Jerseyans are at risk,” Diegnan said. “It’s time these harmful products are taken down from store shelves for good.”
Moriarty voiced similar concerns.
“These are dangerous toxins that have nothing to do with how beautiful a necklace or bracelet looks,” he said.
If the measure becomes law, it would mandate that the state’s consumer affairs director or jewelry manufacturers, distributors or importers issue an immediate recall for any product that they determine contains any prohibited materials or substances.
Within 48 hours of receiving the recall notice, retailers would have to remove the jewelry from displays and make it unavailable for purchase. And within 14 business days, they would have to return all the jewelry to the manufacturer, distributor or importer from which it was obtained, with the appropriate recipient covering the costs.
The manufacturer, distributor or importer would then have 60 business days to destroy the jewelry and dispose of the remnants to remove them from access by the general public.
Violators would face fines of up to $10,000 under the state’s consumer fraud act, and up to $20,000 for subsequent offenses. They also could face punitive damages and be responsible for damages and costs payable to anyone injured by tainted jewelry. Star Ledger.