Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Google and cadmium - part two

..."Jewelry makers defend cadmium - Chinese manufacturers say use of the toxic material cuts costs"... (Asheville Citizen-Times, 1.13.2010)


Cadmium (according to m-w.com) - "A bluish-white malleable ductile toxic divalent metallic element used especially in batteries, pigments, and protective platings."

I'm pondering China and cadmium. Last week, this metal came under scrutiny when high levels of it were discovered in children's jewelry coming from China. This isn't the first poisonous export to make headlines. Remember the contaminated dog food? Or the Elmo coated in lead paint?

A Chinese manager was quoted in this article as saying, "Business is business, and it's all up to our client." By the latter statement, he means that if an American company pays for a more expensive raw material to be used in their product - such as the safer, although more expensive zinc - Chinese factories will use it. If not, so be it. According to this article in the Citizen-Times, cadmium is lighter (this means the buyer gets more product per ton), cheaper, and has a lower melting point than other, safer materials.

As for the concern about cadmium being toxic..."Asked what he (the manager) thought about the health risks associated with cadmium and other toxic metals, he said: 'I can't be overly concerned about that.'"

This article appeared in my town's newspaper on page A6, when it should have made the front page. Every single American citizen should recoil at the words "toxic materials cut costs." We are seeing a pattern of contaminated exports slowly trickling into our country. As usual, it's all about the money. If Sam can make the item for $5, but China can produce it for $3, Sam's country is going to opt for the cheaper product. Sam saves money be moving labor to China - and in turn receives a cheap product - while China brings in the dollars by using cheap labor and unsafe, raw materials.

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