High level of toxic chemicals found in jewelleries in Bangladesh. Children’s jewellery found with high concentration of lead, cadmium and bromine, which is so alarming for human health and environment. A study report on “Toxic Jewellery: High Risk to Health and Environment in Bangladesh’’ disclosed the finding of the high exposure of lead, cadmium, bromine and others toxic compound in jewellery, says a press release.
Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO conducted the study and Syed Marghub Murshed, former Secretary and Chairperson of ESDO disclosed the result of the study at the press briefing yesterday at its head office in Dhaka.
According to the study report, jewelleries in Bangladesh contain high level of arsenic, lead, titanium, cadmium, nickel, bromine, mercury and zinc. Necklaces and chains were found to contain mercury, while children’s jewellery items were found to contain high levels of Cadmium, Bromine, lead, nickel, arsenic and titanium. Tests showed that most of the earrings contained cadmium and lead in high levels and mercury in medium level. Through the questionnaire survey of the target group, it was found that the current status of awareness level is really low. 70% of regular consumers are not conscious and also most of them which are like 55 % said, some of jewellery causes red rash on skin. Only 15 % of retailers are aware of the use of toxic elements in jewellery which is a rare number of manufacturers. In terms of retailer, producer and importer perception, they are not that much aware about harmful elements in jewellery but they ask for alternative options.
In Bangladesh, no research has been held till date on jewellery and harmful effect of heavy metals used in jewellary. ESDO collected study on adult’s and children’s jewellery accessories including Earrings, Necklaces, Bracelets, Finger rings, Chains, Bangles from shopping malls, retail shops and metal analysis has done in EARTH XRF laboratory in Bangkok.
Syed Marghub Murshed said that, the toxic metals used in jewellery are not only harmful to human health but also to the environment because all these metals find their way to soil and water ultimately and pollute them. Media should come forward in this case to create public awareness and to draw government’s concern. This topic should be enlisted in public agenda, he added.
Amongst others Dr. Shahriar Hossain, Secretary General of ESDO and Siddika Sultana, Executive Director, ESDO was present at the press briefing. Mehedi Al Amin, Senior reporter of Bonik Barta, Syed Mahbub Murshed, Senior Reporter, Naya Diganta and Md. Al-Masum-Molla, Dhaka Tribune were present at the press briefing.
Dr. Shahriar Hossain, discussed about why and how these toxic metals are being used in manufacturing jewellary. He emphasized on the harmful effect of these metal toxicity on children’s heath.
Children and adults will have similar health effects if exposed to toxic levels cadmium. Chewing toxic jewellery or drinking with very high cadmium levels severely irritates the stomach, leading to vomiting and diarrhea, and sometimes death. Eating lower levels of cadmium over a long period can lead to kidney damage, and can cause bones to become fragile and break easily. Exposure to cadmium in air has caused lung cancer, and perhaps prostate cancer, in workers.
Based on the study there are some recommendations for Government, related Agencies, Consumers-
Government should formulate an act to ban the import and manufacture of jewellery which contain toxic elements more than the tolerance limit;
Concerned authorities should enlist the shops where toxic chemical containing jewelries are found and immediately should take steps against it;
Mass awareness should be raised among general consumers of toxic jewelries;
Retailers, wholesalers and importers are also needed to be aware and should not bring heavy metal containing jewelries;
Media, NGOs and other organizations should come forward for awareness raising campaigns and talk shows for making general people concerned on use of heavy metals in jewellery;
Warning label should be put on packets containing such products;
Promotion of eco-friendly alternative jewellery or non-toxic material in jewellery can be done;
If SMEs of jewellery need technical assistance to produce jewellery without toxic elements, related authority should provide it to them;
More comprehensive study is needed;
Increase and establishment of laboratory testing facilities in future;
Heavy metal containing waste water treatment through using activated sludge.