Gives a new meaning to Rudolph's red nose

Unless you're a parent you may have skipped over this story in your morning paper (assuming you are retrograde enough to get a morning paper) but really it is relevant to anyone interested in the law of unintended consequences or more broadly in how capitalist markets function. Just when you might think Chinese manufacturing could not be any more careless, this is this story.

With all of the news about lead in toys, and the product recalls, the toy making wizards in China had stumbled on the seemingly great idea of using radioactive cadmium to make kid's jewelry. "On the CDC's priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7."

What could possibly go wrong with using toxic materials in kid's jewelry if it is not illegal! It is a brilliant substitution. And not just a little cadmium either. Some of the tested items were 89-91% cadmium. Pure.

The AP story has this great paragraph:

"A patchwork of federal consumer protection regulations does nothing to keep these nuggets of cadmium from U.S. store shelves. If the products were painted toys, they would face a recall. If they were industrial garbage, they could qualify as hazardous waste. But since there are no cadmium restrictions on jewelry, such items are sold legally."

The photo sent around with this AP story was of a little Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer made out of radioactive cadmium. Lark saw the picture as I was reading the paper this morning and said "It's Rudolph!" The Chinese toy manufacturers are smiling behind their toxic safety shields as they package up this shiny little time bombs.

It is worth noting that this toxic jewelry is sold in the low-end retailers like Wal-Mart and "Dollar N More," So this insures that the poisons unintentionally but directly target the poor.

My question is, if these stores are all selling toxic products, does that mean that they can be closed until being certified as non-radioactive? The same would be true if these stores had car batteries leaking in them or something.

Since some of the Axis of Evil corporations in the United States are involved in distributing (Wal-mart) or inspiring (Walt Disney) the systematic poisoning of American kids, my guess is that this will be a matter of enough public notice that maybe there will be some regulations put on it.


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