The European Commission adopted an amendment under its REACH law to ban the use of cadmium in jewelry, plastics, and brazing sticks (which are used to join metals) and create new restrictions on its use.
The amendment will enter into force on December 20, 2011. The European Commission stated that high levels of cadmium have been found in some jewelry articles, especially in imported imitation jewelry. It also found that consumers including children risked being exposed to cadmium through skin contact or through licking. The new legislation prohibits the use of cadmium in all types of jewelry products, except for antiques
The legislation also prohibits cadmium in all plastic products while encouraging the recovery of PVC waste for use in a number of construction products. Because PVC can be recovered a number of times, the REACH amendment allows the re-use of recovered PVC containing low levels of cadmium in a limited number of construction products. In order to fully inform buyers, construction products that will be made of this recovered PVC will be marketed with a specific logo.
Cadmium is also present in brazing sticks, which is an alloy used to join dissimilar materials, and it is used for specific applications such as amateur railroad modeling. The European Commission found that fumes released during the brazing process are highly dangerous if inhaled. The legislation prohibits the use of brazing materials except for very specific professional uses.
The use of cadmium in the European Union is already restricted under REACH in paints and consumer goods (see Annex XVII of REACH). In addition, cadmium is banned from electrical and electronic products under the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive.
Cadmium in plastics banned