Three Ashland University students who worked with Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer are co-authors of a paper on the bioavailability of cadmium in inexpensive jewelry that has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The research shows that young children who mouth or swallow jewelry containing cadmium may be exposed to as much as 100 times the recommended maximum exposure limit for cadmium. The research also found that damaged pieces of jewelry in some cases leached up to 30 times more cadmium than undamaged pieces. AU research previously highlighted the presence of high concentrations of cadmium in jewelry and helped spur several recalls of high-cadmium jewelry.
Students who participated in this research were geology and integrated science education major Jennifer Miller (’11), and toxicology majors Daphne Guinn (’11) and Janna Pearson (’10). Jennifer and Daphne will present a poster on their research in Washington DC next month at “Posters on the Hill,” an event which highlights the importance of undergraduate research and which is sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research. Jennifer’s and Daphne’s poster was one of only 74 selected from more than 700 applications for this event.
Cadmium, a heavy metal, can cause kidney, bone, lung and liver disease. Most human exposure comes from food or tobacco grown with cadmium-rich phosphate fertilizer. Health effects typically are not acute but instead result from chronic, long-term exposure. Because cadmium can accumulate in the body, all exposures should be avoided. Governmental agencies around the world are working to regulate cadmium use and disposal.
Environmental Health Perspectives is the top monthly journal in public, environmental, and occupational health and is published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. News of the study has been picked up by a variety of news outlets around the world including ABC News, the Los Angeles Times, and CBC News. The work was supported in part by a grant from the Dr. Scholl Foundation.