Imports from China simply can't be given the benefit of the doubt.
It is ironic that on the same day the world learned that China has overtaken Germany to become the world's top exporter, consumers also learned that yet another stream of Chinese imports to America is extremely dangerous.
Chinese manufacturers of children's jewelry, recently forced to stop using lead in their wares, are now substituting cadmium. Cadmium, a carcinogen known to hinder brain development in the very young, is just as dangerous to children as lead, but the United States has never banned its specific use in jewelry.
The Associated Press lab-tested 103 pieces of children's jewelry and trinkets imported from China and bought in New York, Ohio, Texas and California. It found 12 percent of the jewelry was at least 10 percent cadmium. Some pieces were more than 80 percent cadmium, and the cadmium leached out of the toys fairly easily.
Cadmium was found in bracelet charms sold at Walmart, at dollar stores and jewelry chains, and in "The Princess and the Frog" movie-themed pendants. The concentrations of cadmium were high enough that if these trinkets were industrial garbage, they would qualify as hazardous waste and require special handling and disposal.
Over the past three years, many imports from China have been found to be dangerous:
-- The Food and Drug Administration halted the import of fish and shrimp from China because they were found to contain unsafe drugs.
-- The FDA warned against the use of toothpaste made in China after some tubes were found to contain chemicals used in antifreeze.
-- Toymakers Mattel and Fisher-Price recalled nearly 1 million toys made in China because they were coated with lead paint.
-- The Consumer Product Safety Commission said Chinese drywall is corroding metal and wires in houses where it was installed and contains high levels of formaldehyde.
-- Pet food laced with melamine, a dangerous industrial plastic high in protein that can be used to make food appear more nutritious than it is, led to deaths and illnesses in cats and dogs and an enormous pet food recall across North America.
-- Milk laced with melamine sickened at least 300,000 babies in China and killed at least 21, some from poisoning and some from malnutrition caused by the fact that the protein in melamine cannot be digested.
The problem with Chinese products is not that a series of accidents or mistakes has led to contaminations. The problem with Chinese products is that the nation's manufacturers and government do not share our sense of how important it is to make sure all products, and particularly products used by children, are safe.
Going forward, the U.S. government needs to take the stance that imports from China are dangerous until proven safe. U.S. consumers need to operate on the assumption that Chinese products are tainted until proven pure.
Americans must be protected.
How many times will we allow ourselves to be harmed?
If you have or know anyone with small children (and if it won't make you feel too much like a politically incorrect xenophobe/isolationist) do a search on baby stroller recall. See what pops up. Might save some fingertips. Uh-huh. Toldja. ~t*t