Cadmium is a heavy metal that is made when refining zinc ore. It is used in pigments for plastics, ceramic, glass, and enamels. It is also used as a stabilizer for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and in alloys and coatings on steel and other metals.
Health impacts due to exposure to cadmium and cadmium components can result in:
- Cancer (cadmium is a known carcinogen).
- Kidney damage.
- Lung damage.
- Fragile bones or bone loss.
- Gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting.
Learn about the dangers of cadmium in children's jewelry.
Flame retardants are a group of chemicals that manufacturers add to products such as foam, plastics, textiles, and others to meet flammability standards. Some of these chemicals pose health risks as well as impacts on the environment:
- Endocrine and reproductive effects
- Neurological and developmental disorders
- Some flame retardants bioaccumulate (i.e., they build up in living organisms over time), which can harm wildlife such as orcas and other species at the top of the food chain
Lead is both a naturally-occurring metal and a highly toxic chemical to people and wildlife. It can cause many different types of health problems, but children are more vulnerable than adults to the toxic effects of lead.
The main concern for children is the effect lead has on brain development. Lead is known to cause damage to the brain and nervous system resulting in:
- Decreased IQs.
- Learning problems.
- Hearing and speech problems.
- Antisocial and other behavioral issues.
In adults, lead exposure can lead to:
- High blood pressure.
- Kidney damage.
Lead has been used in products such as paint, ceramics, solders, batteries, cosmetics and plastic such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Phthalates are a group of chemicals that can be used to make plastics more flexible, and as solvents and fixatives, such as to extend the life of scents in fragrances.
Some can cause the following health and environmental issues:
- Hormone disruption.
- Impaired reproduction and development in wildlife.
- Toxic to aquatic life.