Protecting children from lead and cadmium in toys, jewelry, and household goods

Gloved hand holding jewelry and household items containing toxic metals.

In Minnesota, nearly one in 20 children have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Parents have enough on their mind. They should not have to worry if the toys their children play with or the cookware they eat from have toxic metals in them.

Unfortunately, some of the toys, inexpensive jewelry, cosmetics, and other products we purchase from online and brick and mortar stores have dangerous levels of lead or cadmium. Children who put these products in their mouths or breathe in the dust released from normal wear and tear can face long-term health problems.

Hazards in the home

Even small amounts of lead or cadmium in household products can cause serious problems for brain health and human development, especially in children. Elevated lead levels can cause behavioral problems, shorter attention spans, slower growth, and decreased coordination.

Since many people know lead is harmful, some manufacturers now use cadmium as a replacement, particularly in inexpensive jewelry. This alternative is no safer. Breathing in cadmium dust or swallowing an item containing cadmium can damage internal organs and even prove fatal.

Getting toxic metals out of products

All of these household products can be made with less-toxic materials.

We have partnered with the state’s Department of Health and Department of Commerce to propose tighter restrictions on the use of lead and cadmium in toys and jewelry. Our proposal would also restrict these metals in other items children and pregnant women may handle. Examples include dishes, cosmetics, personal care products, school supplies, costumes, keys, keychains, and other products.

The policy would also help the state stop retail stores from selling products with lead or cadmium in them and encourage manufacturers to change what goes into their products.

More information: PDF icon Ban lead and cadmium in toys, jewelry, cookware and cosmetics (leg-sy22-21)


Parents: Keep your children safe from toxic metals

  • There is no way to tell if a product has lead or cadmium in it just by looking at it.
  • Avoid buying inexpensive toys, jewelry, and other items when you cannot tell where they were made. Items made in US are least likely to contain lead or cadmium.
  • Wash hands often when handling items that may contain these metals.
  • Never allow children to put items that may contain toxic metals in their mouths.
  • Throw away toys, jewelry, cookware, and other inexpensive items if they become worn or damaged.