The new round of "Shrek" glasses recently sold by McDonald's in conjunction with the release of the latest "Shrek" movie are being recalled due to the discovery, in the wrap used for the "Shrek" decoration on the glass, of a level of cadmium which was slightly above the level which the Consumer Product Safety Commission designates as safe in recommendations it is currently developing.
AP story by Justin Pritchard: McDonald's pulls cadmium-tainted 'Shrek' glasses
"In the case of the Shrek-themed glassware, the potential danger would be long-term exposure to low levels of cadmium, which could leach from the paint onto a child's hand, then enter the body if the child puts that unwashed hand to his or her mouth."
Instructions for receiving refunds are not yet available, but are scheduled for publication on the McDonald's website next week. At this time, the company is advising families to stop using the glasses. The best course of action for participation in the recall would be to pack them into a labeled box in order to avoid accidental usage or breakage, and store them in a safe place until further instructions are available.
This is a voluntary recall. The U.S. made glasses are being recalled as a precautionary measure, due to the company's concern over handling by children leading to risk of exposing them to cadmium.
According to the story, "A very small amount of cadmium can come to the surface of the glass, and in order to be as protective as possible of children, CPSC and McDonald's worked together on this recall," said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson.
While the story does not say how much cadmium was involved, Mr. Wolfson did state that the amount was much lower than the children's jewelry recalled in this Spring by the CSPC.
January 11, 2010 AP article by Justin Pritchard and Jeff Donn: US Agency Goes After Cadmium in Children's Jewelry
This article describes the circumstances that led to the recall of jewelry manufactured in China to be sold by several U.S. retail chains. Following the crackdown by Congress on the use of lead in children's toys, manufacturers sought substitutes for red and yellow pigments. Cadmium is regulated in toys, but not jewelry, and cadmium is relatively cheap, as demand has reduced greatly after use in rechargeable batteries steeply declined when the Lithium Ion battery took over the market. (Ni-Cad batteries came with the inconvenience of needing to be fully drained of power before recharge, to avoid having the battery develop the issue of only reduced capability. Lithium Ion batteries do not have that issue, a characteristic which made them preferable to Ni-Cads.)
From the article: ""There's nothing positive that you can say about this metal. It's a poison," said Bruce A. Fowler, a cadmium specialist and toxicologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On the agency's priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7."
CSPC links regarding jewelry:
Winter and Holiday-Themed Charm Bracelets with High Levels of Cadmium
What is Cadmium?
Cadmium, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cadmium is a metal with similar characteristics to Mercury and Zinc, including a low melting point. The human body has no nutritional use for any type Cadmium compound (unlike with Zinc), and as with Mercury, the metal can have toxic effects with repeated, long term or high level exposure. From the Wiki: "In paint pigments, cadmium forms various salts, with CdS being the most common. This sulfide issued as a yellow pigment. Cadmium selenide can be used as red pigment, commonly called cadmium red." These are the two compounds in question in the McDonald's "Shrek" glasses.
Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry Toxic FAQs for Cadmium
This article has concise statements on several points regarding Cadmium and human health, including Cadmium's carcinogenic nature, long-term exposure effects, effects on children, exposure risk and the reduction thereof, EPA recommendations, and this contact information:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-62
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ 888-232-6348 (TTY)
More information on cadmium exposure:
American Heart Association Journal News report, by Carole Bullock, published in June 2004, 'Safe' levels of lead, cadmium
One point made by the article: Even at levels considered safe in 2004, cadmium had been shown to contribute to the development of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
Health Line article by Samuel Uretsky Pharm.D
This article states that cadmium is dangerous if swallowed or inhaled, but does not mention skin exposure, further confirming the CSPC and McDonald's statements that the concern specifically involves the substance getting into the mouth following skin exposure.
Also included is the warning that chronic (long-term) exposure can be damaging to the liver and kidneys. Symptoms of acute (short-term, high exposure) poisoning are also described, along with the conditions under which this normally occurs.
The McDonald's recall is not cause for immediate alarm if your family has been using the glasses following purchase, but evidence definitely encourages participation. The danger involved with low levels of cadmium is from long-term, repeated exposure.
The glasses have not been available for enough time to cause significant exposure, but continued use could pose that risk, as the cadmium compounds can leach out of the paint and onto the skin of the hand, and subsequently end up in the mouth.
It is inadvisable for anyone to keep the glasses, even if there is no risk of use by children in the house. Participation in the recall is recommended. The option of simple disposal of the glasses may be more convenient for some, but may be improper due to regulations on the disposal of cadmium, as mentioned in the above AP article on the CPSC action regarding cadmium in children's jewelry earlier this year.