The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has written letters to two ASTM International subcommittees encouraging new national consensus safety standards that address “the potential hazard of cadmium” in children’s toys and jewelry.

The October 19, 2010, letters accompany CPSC’s latest cadmium reports, which recommend a “migration approach” to testing that calls for measuring chemical solubility after 24 hours instead of the current two hours to determine whether chemicals can migrate from small items if swallowed. “This conclusion is based on the results of testing hundreds of jewelry and metal alloy samples, as well as information about the length of time an ingested foreign object could be present in the digestive tract of a child,” the letters state.

According to published reports, the standards would be voluntary for children’s jewelry and mandatory for toys, which are currently regulated under the ASTM F-963 toy safety standard that CPSC wants the subcommittee to revise. CPSC spokesperson Scott Wolfson reportedly said that the Consumer Product Safety Act mandates that CPSC work with voluntary standards before issuing mandatory guidelines. “All options are still on the table,” Wolfson said.

Don Mays, senior director for product safety and technical policy for Consumers Union and a subcommittee member, was quoted as saying that CPSC’s action was “a good first step toward removing dangerous cadmium from children’s products. Cadmium is a toxin that, if ingested or inhaled, can damage kidneys and soften bones, yet it is pervasive in many consumer products.” Cadmium has, in recent months, been found in children’s products, generating a number of recalls and significant public attention. See Product Safety & Liability Reporter, Product Liability Law 360, October 20, 2010.