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Rudolph the Cadmium-Nosed Reindeer 454

Posted by kdawson
from the unregulated-does-not-mean-safe dept.
theodp writes "Barred from using lead in children's jewelry because of its toxicity, some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium in sparkling charm bracelets and shiny pendants being sold throughout the US, an AP investigation shows. Charms from 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' bracelets were measured at between 82 and 91 percent cadmium, and leached so much cadmium that they would have to be specially handled and disposed of under US environmental law if they were waste from manufacturing. Cadmium, a known carcinogen, can hinder brain development in the very young. 'There's nothing positive that you can say about this metal. It's a poison,' said the CDC's Bruce Fowler. On the CDC's priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7. Jewelry industry veterans in China say cadmium has been used in domestic products there for years. Hey, at least it doesn't metabolize into GHB when the little tykes ingest it."
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Rudolph the Cadmium-Nosed Reindeer

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  • REGULATORS! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:01PM (#30732676)

    Let's put these things together.... from TFA:

    Cadmium is a known carcinogen. Like lead, it can hinder brain development in the very young, according to recent research.

    and...

    Some of the most troubling test results were for bracelet charms sold at Walmart, at the jewelry chain Claire's and at a dollar store.

    So we've got a substance dangerous to kids in just the kind of jewelry they can afford on their allowance.

    This stuff is absolutely something that needs regulation to control it. Sometimes "letting the market decide" just rolls off the bowling lane and into the gutter. No, knocking down pins in somebody else's lane doesn't count. That's why they put the gutter in.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Maybe if imports were actually inspected at the Border of the USA this crap would not happen. Very little of what is imported is inspected or even properly taxed.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Taxed? Inspected? Let's talk about fines. And since many of these Chinese companies don't care, let's fine China. If that country won't take responsibility for the poisons they export to us, why are we dealing with them?

        • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:34PM (#30732932)

          If that country won't take responsibility for the poisons they export to us, why are we dealing with them?

          Because it's cheap.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by TOGSolid (1412915)
            In before "Government conspiracy to kill off low/middle class families."

            C'mon, I know someone here was seriously thinking it.
            • I WAS thinking of a Chinese Government Conspiracy, does that count?
              • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Insightful)

                by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:56AM (#30733482) Homepage Journal
                "I WAS thinking of a Chinese Government Conspiracy, does that count?"

                Yeah....between this and the chinese drywall problems, I do think they're trying to kill us.

                Hell, they're even after out pets!! Remember the pet food scare about a year ago?

                How about we just stop buying shit from China? How about a great marketing campaign for US companies. "Sure it costs a little more, but it won't kill ya"!

          • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:08AM (#30733186)

            No, because it is highly profitable - and while that may seem like semantic quibbling, it is all the difference in the world.

            Beyond that, those who profit here have two layers of insulation: First, it was made in China ("Oh, those bad, bad Chinese!", the media cooperatively wails). And secondly, since the corporation is a de facto "person" under U.S. law the individuals who make the decisions here are rarely found to be culpable/responsible; instead, the corporation picks up the tab out of small change.

            Contradictorily - and presumably only because they are new to the game of capitalism - the Chinese have yet to learn that the search for profits justifies all, so when they catch a business executive pulling a stunt that harms their people, they gift said executive with that uniquely Chinese jewelry: A bullet behind the ear.

            Or perhaps their government is just less corrupt than ours is.

            • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:30AM (#30733342)

              Or perhaps their government is just less corrupt than ours is.

              I lol'd heartily.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by bsDaemon (87307)
              "De facto" means 'in practice', so I think you're looking for 'de jure' meaning 'in law'. Something is something de facto just because of its nature, whereas de jure means that they passed a law making the corporation a legal entity (which is necessary so that they can own property such as buildings, manufacturing equipment, etc). just sayin'.

              but seriously, i'm sick of all this Chinese crap and I'm sick of people buying the cheapest thing even if its not nearly the best, or even "pretty good" just because
          • Blame Canada! (Score:4, Informative)

            by rve (4436) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:36AM (#30733714)

            If that country won't take responsibility for the poisons they export to us, why are we dealing with them?

            Because it's cheap.

            Citation needed.

            I know cadmium is very commonly used in plastics because of the bright and weather resistant colors that can be made with it, not because it's cheap. Bright yellow, red or orange plastic items that have to spend a lot of time outdoors without fading are often colored with cadmium. Plastic beer crates for example, or company logos.

            Now it seems obvious that it's less suitable for children's toys, because kids of a certain age tend to put everything in their mouth, but remember that scandal a couple of years ago when lead based paint was used in children's toys manufactured in China? Everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten that the problem then wasn't in China, but in the specifications sent to them by the American company that had the toys made. I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happened again.

            • Re:Blame Canada! (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:23AM (#30736618)

              If that country won't take responsibility for the poisons they export to us, why are we dealing with them?

              Because it's cheap.

              Citation needed.

              I know cadmium is very commonly used in plastics because of the bright and weather resistant colors that can be made with it, not because it's cheap.

              You're not using much of any plating metal on cheap charms, so the cost of the material is probably not as significant as the cost of plating it on. You want a metal that's easy to plate, shiny and corrosion resistant, so cadmium fits the bill (in retrospect, shoulda put "non-toxic" in there). What other options might they have used? Chrome might be less toxic, but plating generates hazardous wastes. Perhaps the environment people where the shop is located are more diligent (or more present) than the toy safety people. Silver is benign, but it tarnishes. Zinc doesn't tarnish, but is less shiny. Gold, rhodium, palladium are pricey enough to be getting into significant material cost. The price of indium has gone up since the Chinese stopped separating it from zinc ore. Tin would probably work. Dipping it in mercury would make it nice and shiny, but there's the poisonous thing.

              So how do you pick? I guess you'd find whatever was cheap enough from a material standpoint and compatible with your expertise and equipment. If anyone complains, well, you're not a toxicologist, are you?

          • by umghhh (965931) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:41AM (#30734504)
            If it is good for chinese kids it is also good for any other one. Stop complaining and invest in cadmiun ore mines!
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Because China could tank our currency very easily and 'owns' A LOT of real assets in the United States.

          Plus, It's the most common blunder - never get into a land war with china

          (followed closely there after: never mess with a Sicilian when death is on the line)

          • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:13AM (#30733220) Homepage
            I was tempted to just mod you up, but I want to reiterate your point. Our debt is the greatest national security issue we face. Take for example how the US, as a creditor to Great Britain after WWII, forced GB to follow the will of the US:

            The United States also put financial pressure on Great Britain to end the invasion. Eisenhower in fact ordered his Secretary of the Treasury, George M. Humphrey to prepare to sell part of the US Government's Sterling Bond holdings. ...

            Britain's then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Harold Macmillan, advised his Prime Minister Anthony Eden that the United States was fully prepared to carry out this threat. He also warned his Prime Minister that Britain's foreign exchange reserves simply could not sustain a devaluation of the pound that would come after the United States' actions; and that within weeks of such a move, the country would be unable to import the food and energy supplies needed simply to sustain the population on the islands.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suez_Crisis [wikipedia.org]

            Why do you think there is nothing serious done about human rights violations or trade unfairness? It is because China could simply end the US economy. Debtors are slaves.

            • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:49AM (#30733784) Journal
              The situation with China is not as bad......China has less than a trillion dollars in US treasury bonds, so even if they dumped them all on the market, it would have a smaller inflationary effect than what the Fed has done in the last year.

              The US produces more food than it consumes, so we would be ok on the essentials, although we might have trouble getting Mexican mangos for a while. Furthermore, because most other world currencies depend somewhat on the dollar, any such inflation would likely spread throughout the world monetary system.

              I'm not trying to say we shouldn't close the deficit, of course we should, but let's be rational about it. I'm tired of oversensationalized disaster scenarios.
              • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Interesting)

                by gtall (79522) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @06:46AM (#30735034)

                There are two other problems the Chinese face with dumping dollars. The increase in inflationary pressure makes the dollar cheaper and hence U.S. exports more competitive with their Chinese crap. And with those inflated dollars, since Americans won't be earning any more of them than before, Americans won't have as much money to buy the Chinese crap.

                There is also a third problem but not directly related to the dollar, the Chinese economy is addicted to hypergrowth. With hypergrowth comes inefficiencies and graft. If the Chinese economy slows, it runs the risk of imploding as investment heads for the exits. It is a growing problem for them because the rest of the world has Chinese goods coming out their various orifices. The only way to soak them up in the future will be for the Chinese to increase domestic consumption. That's when the Chinese will be forced to use the crap they've been pawning off on the rest of the world. Their legal system won't be able to sort out the mess, the government is already sclerotic and gets the heebie-jeebies when the Falon Gong start doing exercises in the street.

                What will be a problem for the U.S. is when the Chinese get tired of buying U.S. debt. Congress-critters won't be able to kick the can down the road any further and the budget will be forced into a better alignment with revenues. Congress-critters will only make changes when they have no other option. The Obama administration is all hat and no cattle so they will be mere by-standers.

        • by saaaammmmm (1650977) <sam@xln[ ]rg ['x.o' in gap]> on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:43PM (#30732990)
          Charging China a paltry fee of 12,335,273,000,149 would do the trick.
      • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dog-Cow (21281) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:15PM (#30732790)

        I have no numbers on the amount of goods shipped into the US on a daily basis, but I suspect that it would take a large percentage of the population to check it all in a timely manner.

        It would be better to simply fine Walmart several hundred billion dollars for poisoning US citizens. Walmart forces suppliers to lower prices, and this is exactly what we get. It is Walmart's fault.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sustik (90111)

          Actually, it seems a perfectly good idea to create those jobs to inspect the goods.
          Since WM brings it in WM pays for it. Those people who lost their jobs because of WM
          may get it back in the inspection sector.

          Of course this will raise the WM prices, which is the right thing to do; today they
          can offer the low price because they are not bound buy the same safety regulations.

        • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MrMr (219533) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:36AM (#30734466)
          I guess it would probably cost less than the current passenger scans at US airports, and save more lives.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zmollusc (763634)

          There seems no end of funding available to search passengers at airports, why can't retail goods be searched?

          Minion: Sir! Some guy put a firework in his socks and tried to board an aircraft!
          Gov: OMFGBBQ!!! Strip-search all passengers! Build new xray machines and put them in airports! Flood the airports with rent-a-cops! Rescind all human rights! Detain anyone who uses any word on our secret naughty word list! Build dna databases of everyone except me!

          Minion: Sir! Also Walmart are selling kids toys that are

      • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:30PM (#30732910)

        You forget that whomever is in charge gets big money from lobbyists. The lobbyists are from companies who make BIG quarterly profits by ensuring that American jobs fly offshore, but Americans are still demanded to buy the products. This is why there isn't any taxation on Chinese imports or offshoring, but there is taxation for American companies making their stuff in house. Same reason why there are large tax incentives for businesses to move staffing overseas, while domestic companies have to pay payroll taxes.

        Don't expect cadmium-laced toys for our kids to be the end of this. Hydrogen sulfate in drywall, melamine in baby food and pet products, lead and other toxic metals in toys, chips with remote destruct or monitoring abilities, and so on.

        What is needed is to stop relying on another country that does not like us, but makes stuff for our kids. This won't come from popular support. It won't come from companies because they are addicted to the race to the bottom. So the pressure has to be done at the political level. Come election year, if a candidate doesn't get laws passed dealing with this, chuck them out and have someone who is able to provide minimal safety in products put in office, regardless of "D" or "R" by their names.

        We need trade barriers protecting our nation and workforce. China has them in place for their own interests. Want a company in China? Their local interests have to own 51% of all ventures, and a foreigner cannot own land there. Don't forget the tariffs, so we can get revenue from somewhere other than the FED's printing press and level the playing field.

        • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bfree (113420) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:45PM (#30732996)

          Come election year, if a candidate doesn't get laws passed dealing with this, chuck them out and have someone who is able to provide minimal safety in products put in office, regardless of "D" or "R" by their names.

          If you only choose from the "D" or "R" options then would you really expect anything to change? I think it would be far more effective to vote for anyone else other then a "D" or "R" even if that candidate doesn't get elected as if any significant percentage of people did so it would not only scare the duopoly (and those lobbying them so effectively) but would encourage others in the future to try and provide a real alternative.

          • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:55PM (#30733074)
            My view is this:
            Whoever is in that seat today, you're out come election time. I don't care if its D, R, L, C, or X after your name. You're out, because you are demonstrably doing a shitty job.

            If you are in that seat today, get the fuck out. Let someone else try it for a while, because you suck.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by QuoteMstr (55051)

            People like you voted for Nader and inflicted Bush the Younger on yourselves, our country, and the world. As the first decade of the 21st century has tragically demonstrated, the parties aren't the same.

            Voting for a third party does nothing with out simple first-past-the-post voting scheme. Any scenario other than a two party system is unstable, and will eventually decay to that [wikipedia.org]. Every new political party in the United States has been a rebranding of one of the previous two.

            I'd love to switch to an alternat

            • by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @06:35AM (#30734994) Homepage Journal

              People like you voted for Nader and inflicted Bush the Younger on yourselves, our country, and the world.

              If Al Gore and John Kerry can't beat an ape by a significant margin with the rank and file democrat votes then they didn't deserve the job. It's pretty pathetic to blame the swing voters and the far left for the problems of the world. 59M people voted for Kerry out of 215M possible voters. There were 92M voters who really did throw their vote away by not even showing up. Why don't you attack them instead of the roughly 1.1M who voted outside of the two main parties. Barely half a million for Nader.

              I think I'll blame the Bush catastrophe on the 59M democrats for not picking someone better in their primaries, at least that sort of unreasonableness has some logic to it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      wtf has this got to do with "letting the market decide"? your talking about kids braclets, they are hardly in a position to decide anything. I would suggest once the market knows these bracklets are made with a dangerous heavy metal, it will decide. fail.
      • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:18PM (#30732808)

        People making these bracelets with toxic metals in them are banking on that it would take months if not years for people to find this out. In this time, a company who makes it can net a lot of money.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LostCluster (625375) *

        Kids don't know enough about science to know these things are bad for them. Neither do their parents. That's why we need to get these things out of stores so something safer can take their place.

      • Re:REGULATORS! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by debrain (29228) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:59PM (#30733102) Journal

        wtf has this got to do with "letting the market decide"? your talking about kids braclets, they are hardly in a position to decide anything. I would suggest once the market knows these bracklets are made with a dangerous heavy metal, it will decide. fail.

        Sir —

        The market's invisible hand rewards those selling cadmium bracelets because they are cheaper than other kinds; people buy them in the belief that they are essentially equivalent in every way but price (and, interestingly, looks). However, as per the article, these bracelets are not equivalent in their health effects - the cadmium bracelets present an enormous health hazard. I agree that if people knew the presence of cadmium and its effects, they would not buy cadmium laden bracelets. However people do not know, they have any way of knowing such a thing, and as most people would presume that such a toxin would never be in children's bracelets there is unlikely to be inquiry by most purchasers (many are also likely aware that the salesperson knows as much about the heavy metal content of the bracelet as they would know about ... virtually anything, hence there is no source of information that can be accessed with reasonable levels of effort).

        With enough money one can ensure the market never "knows". A well funded company that has purchased all its competitors and has inroads into multiple marketing vectors can present whatever image they feel appropriate. Your rebuttal would seem to be premised on a society made up predominantly of informed, conscientious consumers. That is not the society we now live in. Consumers today are at best uninformed, indifferent, and short-sighted. On average they are self-indulgent, misinformed, and impulsive.

        For example, look at the food production and distribution system in the United States. People who eat meat at fast food joints are consuming (albeit in small portions) sterilized faeces and ground up other humans. Heck, Monsanto's still around, and doing rather well [google.ca], in spite of well known criticism [wikipedia.org].

        Alas, I would disagree with the assertion that the market can self-correct in all cases (the formula is rather simple - if the profit minus the cost of mitigation is greater than the cost of continuing to sell a bad product - continue to sell). Perhaps if the culture changes and people become conscious of their consumables we will see a change in the type of market. But for now, if the market were left to decide, and the avenues of information were paid to ameliorate criticism, there could continue to be a healthy market for cadmium laden bracelets that are cheaper than alternatives and purchased in the absence of education, awareness and forethought.

        • by jamesh (87723)

          People who eat meat at fast food joints are consuming (albeit in small portions) sterilized faeces and ground up other humans.

          citation needed!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This stuff is absolutely something that needs regulation to control it.

      Half the time people cry out for more regulation, there already is regulation in place. The problem is the very entity you want to enact regulations, is inept, certainly fallible, and usually only reacts after bad news like this gets out to the consumers--who by then (presumably) would already be scared of buying this stuff.

      Since rules are already in place for this sort of thing, you can't cry out "regulate it!" because it already is re

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by QuoteMstr (55051)

        Half the time people cry out for more regulation, there already is regulation in place. The problem is the very entity you want to enact regulations, is inept, certainly fallible

        "Inept" isn't the word I'd use: instead, I'd say the regulators have been captured [wikipedia.org] by powerful industry lobbies. They're certainly fallible too, in the sense that we're all human and all corruptible.

        This debacle does not constitute evidence that regulation doesn't work. On the contrary, it's evidence that our regulatory system has b

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jbengt (874751)

        Since rules are already in place for this sort of thing, you can't cry out "regulate it!" because it already is regulated.

        No.
        RTFA
        There are no regulations for cadmium in jewelry.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        Half the time people cry out for more regulation, there already is regulation in place.

        The answer isn't more regulation, nor deregulation, but better regulation. Elect good leaders who will appoint good regulators and you'll have good regulations.

        In the end the onus is on you to keep yourself informed.

        Nobody can know everything. There are too many facets of life to be informed about everything. When my pipes spring a leak I call a plumber; no matter how informed I am about plumbing, a professional plumber w

    • Not so loud. Maybe we can convince them to put cadmium in spandex and baseball hats. That would kill off most of Walmarts customers, and stop all the Chinese imports when they go out of business. We can get America working again, one set of spandex on a fat woman's ass at a time.
    • This stuff is absolutely something that needs regulation to control it

      There are regulations, but nobody gives a shit. Nobody follows the ones we already have!

      Why don't you go up to Washington DC and add another thousands pages and wave your hand like it matters. Nobody trusts the government. Nobody believes in the justice system. Nobody believes in God and nobody believes in your dumbass socialism either.

      Everything you are telling me is a lie, and honestly, its just time to divvy up the nukes among the

    • TARIFFS! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:27AM (#30733324)

      The trade may be free, but it's sure as hell not fair:

      1. China has no environmental or labor standards. It's not fair to expect our domestic industries to compete against theirs when we have to clean up after ourselves. Here, we have elections. There, if you complain about the local river turning green and your kids' hair falling out, you get disappeared.
      2. China has been manipulating its currency, the renminbi, to subsidize its exports and cost us millions of jobs [nytimes.com].
      3. Third, the unmitigated, unregulated, and unabashed greed exhibited by Chinese manufacturers and their American partners has not only poisoned our economy with a cavalcade of cheap crap, but put the lives and well-being of our pets, our children, and ourselves in danger.

      It's time to place heavy tariffs on Chinese imports until they play by the same rules as the rest of the civilized world. We shouldn't do business with Dickenonsian nightmare states.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:12PM (#30732758)

    ...combine it with nickel and you've got yourself a battery. Now that's positive... and negative.

    • It also makes a wonderful yellow pigment for paints. On canvas, of course, not children's toys -- though it has largely been replaced by safer compounds even in artists' paints.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:12PM (#30732768)

    Lemons are an interesting fruit. They are incredibly sour to the point of being inedible as-is, this makes it evolutionarily disadvantaged since more tasty fruits would seemingly have an advantage. However, here we are with literally millions of lemon trees. What can we do with these sour fruits? Lemonade!

    So when life hands you cadmium, make Ni-Cad batteries!

  • by Alcoholist (160427) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:12PM (#30732772) Homepage

    Just saying.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Inda (580031)
      And the USA, the would leaders in Chinese hatemongering, could take some responsibility. I'm getting really fed up with the way the USA wants everything cheap and cheerful without a thought for anyone else. The hate is borderline racism - call them Chinks and sprinkle some sugar on the top.

      I work for a German company, in the UK. Our partners are mainly Swiss and French. When we commission the Chinese to work for us, we help them. We fly our people over, we explain why we wont let them machine our metal in a
  • How come... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:18PM (#30732812)

    Barred from using lead ... Chinese manufacturers have been substituting the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium

    They're not barred from using Cadmium? But they're barred from using Lead?

    Wouldn't it make more sense to regulate the safety of products using the more harmful material first?

    We shouldn't need a 'law' for each material... we should get one law about safety requirements for harmful materials, warning labels, and access by children.

    For example, products for use by children must not contain amounts of cadmium or lead that are not protected by a safety measure.

    Of course their toy's batteries might contain cadmium or lead, so it shouldn't be banned, but safety requirements at least as strict (such as shielding/containing harmful materials) should be applied to Cadmium as to lead, etc, etc.

    • You know, this seems to happen so often..

      I'm starting to wonder if it's not deliberate.

    • Kids haven't been exposed to Cadmium much, and there's far too many things to test. Laws are written to blacklist things that are troublesome. We'd be much better off with a whitelist of safe things to use, but that's not how the world works.
  • by Ritchie70 (860516) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:19PM (#30732820) Journal

    This sort of shit is why you don't want to buy Chinese products if you can help, and never, ever, buy Chinese food products.

    When buying gifts for very young children (preschool age and down) I do my best to buy toys made in Europe or the US.

    I've accepted that I can't avoid Chinese merchandise in general, but I try to be selective - not for people who don't know not to eat their stuff, and not for things I plan to eat.

    I read somewhere that Chinese industry is currently at a safety level - both for their workers and their products - roughly comparable to Victorian England or America. That isn't a world I want to live in if I can avoid it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's a problem. I was reading somewhere (sorry, don't recall where... it was a news article months ago) about how the majority of all US peanut butter brands are filled with peanuts from China. Apparently they control the majority of the market.

      Just imagine the things leaching into their soil over there...

      ugh.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Good luck with at least 80% of the worlds toys made in Shantou, China alone! Unless you make your own toys there is not much choice left...

    • by TheWizardTim (599546) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:50PM (#30733030) Journal

      This is the problem with our Trade Agreements. We enforce IP laws to no end, but other issues? Workers rights and safety issues never seem to come up.

      The Libertarian view does not work here. Sure, we can sue Walmart for importing these toys. We can sue the maker, somehow. The problem is that if one kid dies or becomes permanently sick because of these toys, it's too late. We need regulation. We need trade agreements that not only enforce IP, but make sure that the companies are not using methods or materials banned in the US.

      The same applies to any company operating in the US. Self regulation only goes so far. We had the Sego mine disaster in 2006. Who was the head of US mine safety? A mine owner. So in Europe when the same thing happened, the workers had a bunker with food, water and air to retreat too. To save money, the US did not have any regulations requiring bunkers. The workers here died.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by feepness (543479)

        The problem is that if one kid dies or becomes permanently sick because of these toys, it's too late.

        I note the Republicans (well, and I guess the Democrats now) saying the same thing about terrorism.

        We cannot protect everyone from everything. Well, we could, but I'm not sure that would be a world anyone would want to live in.

        But here's the question... has cadmium actually made anyone sick yet? Isn't the alarm being raised before that happened already? Do you expect our politicians to somehow spot have spotted this ahead of everyone else?

        I would be perfectly happy to see cadmium regulated, but

    • by Again (1351325)

      What I would like to know is which Chinese manufacturers are doing this. If an American manufacturer put hazardous materials in children's products, you'd bet that we would all know which manufacturers were doing this. By making the names of the companies that are doing this well known, it would give the other ones a chance to stand apart from the "OMG Chinese manufacturer..." stereotype you are painting them all with.

      Just so you know, China is a big place with a lot of people. I'm pretty sure that to lu

    • by dbIII (701233)
      There's always been people that want to import substandard and dangerous goods to make a profit. In the past it was difficult for them to do so. Now it is very easy. That is what has changed.
      It really has nothing to do with the quality and safety of Chinese goods because in general both have improved dramaticly and the really bad quality stuff doesn't get exported. We're just letting things in we wouldn't allow to be sold if they were made domesticly.
  • Rudolph... (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:24PM (#30732868)

    ...substituting the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium

    Everybody knows a proper Rudolph is made from tritium, not cadmium. Damn imitation radioactive children's toys... buy american: We use 100% Tritium in our glow in the dark toys!

  • With stories like this, and also how a whole city had been built (so some city official can say his cities economy grew at 8 percent this year) despite almost no one having moved in, questions have to be asked of trade with china.
    If their government is so slack to allow the above (not to mention the melamine in milk to whiten it) and not be able to put a stop to it with out it affecting their International trade, all children goods, consumables and any other goods possibly effecting public health should b
  • Scaremongering (Score:3, Informative)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:36PM (#30732940)

    It is a little annoying when people trot out these scary stories without completely understanding the true threats involved. Cadmium is only considered to be carcinogenic when inhaled as a vapor. You can safely touch it without any adverse effects. While not commonplace today, there was a time when tools were frequently cadmium plated. These are safe to use provided you don't do anything to remove the plating or try to polish it up.

    • Re:Scaremongering (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nemyst (1383049) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:41PM (#30732982) Homepage
      And you've never seen a little child putting stuff into his/her mouth and happily chewing?
    • Re:Scaremongering (Score:5, Informative)

      by hey! (33014) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:35AM (#30733362) Homepage Journal

      Ingestion is a serious danger with cadmium. There was a case of mass Cd poisonings in Japan in the first half of the 20th century, caused by contaminated rice irrigated with water downstream from mines. Any application where Cd comes into contact with the hands -- especially children's hands -- is suspect.

      With respect to Cd plated tools -- I don't remember them. I do remember fasteners with Cd plating. I suppose if you don't disturb the plating it's not likely to leach. However that says nothing about the items in the article which *did* leach. You can't compare plating to something like paint, which is an entirely different thing. If it weren't, you'd never have to plate anything, you'd get by with paint.

      In any case I don't buy the whole "we used to use such and so and it ain't harmed me none" argument. When I was young people still carbon tetrachloride to clean circuit boards. Let me tell you it was da bomb. It was cheap, worked like a charm, left no residue, and you could put out fires with it. I knew lots of people who used it and never saw any adverse reactions. That doesn't mean it didn't hurt some people. For one thing I haven't followed those people for thirty years and don't know how many ended up with liver damage.

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted @ s l a s h d ot.org> on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:38PM (#30732960)

    Do you buy it anyway?
    Because I don’t see it not being sold everywhere, anytime soon.

    You don’t have to buy it from China, you know?
    But it’s so cheap, right? ;)

    When did cheap become equal too good?
    I guess by the time that simple became equal to efficient...

  • Itai-Itai (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:44PM (#30732992)

    The Japanese have experience with environmental pollution from cadmium mining.

    They call the results itai-itai disease, which is roughly translated into ouch-ouch. Few victims actually die from the disease, they typically commit suicide to get relief from the pain it causes.

    • From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      "One of the main effects of cadmium poisoning is weak and brittle bones. Spinal and leg pain is common, and a waddling gait often develops due to bone deformities caused by the cadmium. The pain eventually becomes debilitating, with fractures becoming more common as the bone weakens. Other complications include coughing, anemia, and kidney failure, leading to death."

      No mention there of suicide, although you may have other sources. Sounds like just the thing for our children to be ingestin

  • by toby (759) * on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:50PM (#30733034) Homepage Journal

    Jewelry industry veterans in China say cadmium has been used in domestic products there for years.

    And we know the Chinese don't give a damn about poisoning [independent.co.uk] their [independent.co.uk] backyard [genetologi...derzoek.nl] or themselves. [independent.co.uk]

    We'll all pay for this unforgivable, mindless destruction eventually.

  • The main thing I wonder is why do they use cadmium in the first place? What's so good about it? TFA says "nothing positive about cadmium" - but I'm sure that depends on your pov. There must be something very attractive about using cadmium (it can't be just the low price, iron is also pretty cheap) that makes them use cadmium.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)

      Cadmium melts at about 600 F. Iron melts at about 2,800 F.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by wvmarle (1070040)

        You mean 315 C and 1540 C right? Then those numbers start making sense for the rest of the world.

  • Makes nice paints (Score:3, Informative)

    by dickens (31040) on Monday January 11, 2010 @11:51PM (#30733046) Homepage

    Actually there is another nice thing you can say about cadmium. It makes lovely yellow and orange pigments. Sort of like lead white. Van Gogh may have absorbed or ingested enough to cause or exacerbate his mental disorders.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mirix (1649853)
      It's very effective corrosion resistance plating as well. Even better when you put on a chromate conversion coating after (also toxic).
      It's not used much in consumer goods though, mostly military stuff (chrome conversion can conveniently turn it olive-drab, too.)

      I believe the main problem with Cd is - it's very similar to Zn. And due to this similarity, your body absorbs it, as zinc, but you are unable to excrete it, and get something like a horrible zinc deficiency? I'm not entirely certain, but I seem t
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mirix (1649853)
        I should add - after years, plain cadmium plating oxidizes, and turns to a sort of butternut yellow coloured powder. I think this is when it is most dangerous, because it is very easy to inhale or ingest.

        I see it on occasion on the metalwork of electronic equipment from the 50's and 60's.
  • Fair and balanced. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nemock (1718880) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:08AM (#30733190)
    When you consider the astronomical amount of products we import from China, cases like this are the rare exception ... not the norm. Problem is the media keeps digging these cases up and shining flood lights on them to reinforce the stereotype that products from China are poor quality and dangerous. Try to replace China with any country/countries and watch the prices/danger levels shoot up and quality fall. The only positive side of these stories is the public is informed of which specific products should be avoided. Problem is .. they do this only for Chinese products (and no it's not because only Chinese products have issues).
    • by McFortner (881162) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:18AM (#30733250)
      Wow, you sound like a shill saying that. Get real, the Chinese Communist Central Committee doesn't care as long as they can get our money and get away with it. As soon as we find out, some poor middle management schmuck gets put up against the wall and shot. Remember, Lenin said "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." We sure are making the job easy for them....
  • To Stop This (Score:5, Interesting)

    by randallman (605329) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:26AM (#30733316)

    Whatever company outsources the labor or imports/markets the dangerous merchandise should be held accountable. So if Barbie comes back with lead paint, Mattel should pay the price.

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