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Issue 27
, 2010
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Excess lead in kids’ jewellery

Source: The Pioneer, New Delhi, Date: , 2010

 Next time you think of adorning your children with in-vogue costume jewellery, pause and think. These flamboyant, mix and match embellishments have been found to contain as much as six times more than the prescribed limit of lead, a potent neurotoxin capable of IQ deficit, brain and kidney damage, gastrointestinal symptoms such as colic or even death .

A recent report “Toxic Trinkets: An investigation of lead in Children’s Jewellery in India” has brought out the varied levels of lead in children’s jewellery used in our country, that are imported as well as exported abroad.

It delves into identifying the gray that exists in the children’s jewellery market: right from its manufacturing, retailing and even exports of these jewellery items from India to rest of the world. Children between the age group 0 and 13 years were studied.

The report has been prepared by Toxics Link, an NGO working on environment.

The report states that 54 samples of jewellery was collected from different markets of Delhi, including Central Delhi, Janpath, South, Lajpat Nagar, Old Delhi, and Sadar Bazaar. Lead is mixed with the metals or alloys to impart malleability. To attract children further, manufacturers coat the items with bright colours. These colours are organo-metallic compounds, which are loosely bound to the surface and can leach easily.

The report stresses that despite establishing international standards and prohibitions to lead in jewellery and similar items, especially children’s products, there exists no specific regulation for lead in children’s jewellery in India. It has pointed to the lack of awareness, accountability or even regulations, that there exists lead in children’s jewellery in India.

According to Anjali Pandey, senior programme officer, Toxic Link, the samples collected had varied range of lead content, reaching up to 1800 parts per million (PPM) ,when the standard prescribed for children in the US is up to 300 PPM. The varying concentration was found in items like necklace, ring, bangle, bracelet, earrings and hoops.

Dr Arvind Taneja, pediatrician, pointed out that the problem of lead in blood levels is under recognised in the country. It can cause severe irreparable damage to child causing mental retardation and deafness, besides affecting the overall development of the body and IQ of the child.

Ravi Aggarwal, director, Toxics Link said, “Lead toxicity is known since the last 100 years, yet it continues to be used in paints, toys and jewellery.” Satish Sinha, associate director of Toxics Link added, “Products meant for children’s use must be free from toxic substances and hence should not contain lead.”