Cadmium is no longer allowed to be present in jewellery, plastics and welding wire in concentrations above 0.01 per centage by weight. This is a decision made by the EU. The ban came into force on 10 December 2011.
High levels of cadmium in jewellery
High levels of cadmium have been discovered in certain types of jewellery, particularly imported, fake jewellery. Consumers are at risk of being exposed to the toxic substance on skin contact or if they lick the jewellery. The new legislation prohibits the use of cadmium in all types of jewellery products except in antique objects.
Banned in plastics too
The prohibition also covers cadmium in all kinds of plastics. However, the new legislation permits the use of recycled PVC with low levels of cadmium in a limited number of building products. Building products made from recycled PVC have to be labelled with a special logo for the information of customers.
Sweden considers that cadmium must be removed from the ecocycle and therefore opposed this exemption, but was unable to prevent it being introduced. As REACH is an EU Regulation, the rules, including the exemption, will apply equally throughout the EU, including in Sweden.
Cadmium is also present in welding wire, which is used to weld different materials together. The vapours released in such welding are very dangerous to inhale. The use of such welding materials will be prohibited, except in very specific professional applications.
- Cadmium is a carcinogenic substance and toxic to the aquatic environment. It is stored in the body for a long time, and if large amounts enter the body it can result in impaired kidney function and lead to brittle-bone disease.
- In 1988 the Council of the European Union decided that cadmium compounds in the environment should be controlled.
- Cadmium has been prohibited in the EU in a number of plastic articles since 1992, but Sweden has had stricter national rules.
- The use of cadmium has been prohibited in certain batteries and electronic products since 2004.
- The new prohibition has been included in the list in Annex XVII to the REACH Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals).