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McDonald's recalls Shrek glasses for cadmium concerns; call for refunds

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Photo U.S. CPSC

Immediately stop using your collectible Shrek glasses, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) stated today. McDonald's voluntarily recalled 12 million U.S.-made collectible glasses that they had been selling since May 21, according to Associated Press (AP) and the CPSC. Cadmium has been discovered in the painted design on "Shrek"-themed drinking glasses being sold nationwide.

The discovery of cadmium in the paint on these glasses expands cadmium contamination concerns beyond jewelry imported from China. The have been recent recalls for children's and teen/adult jewelry because of cadmium concerns. The Shrek glasses are manufactured by ARC International of Millville, N.J.

Chicago-area McDonald's are no longer selling the glasses. McDonald's set up a toll-free number for you to call for refunds: 800-244-6227.

The 16-ounce glasses, being sold for about $2 each as part of a promotional campaign for the movie "Shrek Forever After," were available in four designs depicting the characters Shrek, Princess Fiona, Puss-in-Boots, and Donkey.

The CPSC noted in its recall notice that "long-term exposure to cadmium can cause adverse health effects." Cadmium is a known carcinogen that research shows also can cause bone softening and severe kidney problems.

In the case of the Shrek-themed glassware, the potential danger would be long-term exposure to low levels of cadmium, which could leach from the paint onto a child's hand, then enter the body if the child puts that unwashed hand to his or her mouth.

"A very small amount of cadmium can come to the surface of the glass, and in order to be as protective as possible of children, CPSC and McDonald's worked together on this recall," said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson. He would not specify the amounts of cadmium that leached from the paint in tests, but said the amounts were "slightly above the protective level currently being developed by the agency."

Wolfson also said the glasses have "far less cadmium than the children's metal jewelry that CPSC has previously recalled."

Concerns about cadmium exposure emerged in January, when The Associated Press reported that some items of children's jewelry sold at major national chains contained up to 91 percent of the metal. Federal regulators worry that kids could ingest cadmium by biting, sucking or even swallowing contaminated pendants and bracelets.

According to the AP, Federal scrutiny of the glasses began last week. The Washington office of U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who has proposed strictly limiting cadmium in jewelry, received what a spokesman described as an anonymous tip that testing with an X-ray gun that estimates how much cadmium an item contains indicated the metal was present in the glass paint. Speier's office requested samples of the glasses from the tipster, and upon receiving them May 27 sent them to the CPSC for further investigation.

"Our children's health should not depend on the consciences of anonymous sources," Speier said in a statement Friday. "Although McDonald's did the right thing by recalling these products, we need stronger testing standards to ensure that all children's products are proven safe before they hit the shelves."

For more info: Get info on previous recalls for children's and teen/adult jewelryU.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry cadmium toxicity information.

Suggestions, comments, questions? Anything about environmental health that you would like to know about? Email your Chicago Environmental Health Examiner at MarisaNaujokas@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter @chicagoenviron.

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