Analyses conducted by AU Chemistry professor Jeff Weidenhamer were cited in a New York Times article about the recall of 12 million Shrek-themed glasses by McDonald's on Friday. Dr. Weidenhamer was assisted by AU senior Jennifer Miller, who is working with him this summer to characterize the hazards of inexpensive jewelry items containing high levels of cadmium. This research, which has prompted three recalls of jewelry for cadmium contamination, is supported by a grant from the Dr. Scholl Foundation.
Analysis of the paint on two of the Shrek glasses showed that the soluble cadmium content exceeded 750 ppm. This is more than ten times the limit for paint on children's toys, but there are not currently any standards which apply to products such as these glasses. Cadmium bioaccumulates throughout one's lifetime and the primary risk of chronic exposure is kidney damage. Recent evidence also supports a role for trace levels of cadmium in the development of some breast cancers.