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Cadmium, Lead, & Phthalates

The Toxic Chemicals Associated With Eyewear Production


Phthalates are plastisizers added to acetate in the production processes so the acetate is more workable, phthalates are hazardous to our health in larger quantities and have been proven to pose risks to the development of the reproductive system, brain, and other organs

While the level of phthalates in eyewear is safe to humans, its more about the phthalates being produced and used in general and the labs creating these toxic substances.  We feel it best to eliminate these types of chemicals all together if possible.

Bio acetates use vegetable based plastisizers and eliminate the use of phthalates and this is why, when at all possible, we produce with Bio Acetates.


Cadmium & Lead

If your frame is metal or plastic with metal core running through the arm/temples with a soldered on hinge then it contains cadmium and lead as these are used in solders that are used for eyeglasses production.

Cadmium & Lead ARE TOXIC and some "eco friendly" eyewear is not as eco friendly as you may think if there are solder points.

Although the levels in eyeglasses are considered safe for the wearer, both lead and cadmium production and applications are highly toxic to EARTH and those working with the materials on a production basis and welding eyewear parts together can poison the laborer if they breath the fumes of solders.




  • Cadmium and Cadmium Compounds. NTP classification: Known to be human carcinogens
  • An 8-hour TWA (time-weighted-average) exposure level of 5 mg/m has been estimated for lethal effects of inhalation exposure to cadmium, and exposure to 1 mg/m is considered to be immediately dangerous to human health (Friberg, 1950).Aug 29, 1997

Health Effects

Occupational exposure to cadmium can lead to a variety of adverse health effects including cancer. Acute inhalation exposure (high levels over a short period of time) to cadmium can result in flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, and muscle pain) and can damage the lungs. Chronic exposure (low level over an extended period of time) can result in kidney, bone and lung disease. For a comprehensive discussion of cadmium's health effects, see OSHA Preambles to Final Rules – Cadmium.

The following webpages provide additional information on the health effects of cadmium.

  • OSHA Brief - Medical Evaluation of Renal Effects of Cadmium Exposures. OSHA, (August 2013).
  • Report on Carcinogens (ROC). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Toxicology Program (NTP). Identifies and discusses agents, substances, mixtures, or exposure circumstances that may pose a health hazard due to their carcinogenicity. The listing of substances in the RoC only indicates a potential hazard and does not establish the exposure conditions that would pose cancer risks to individuals.
  • Cadmium. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety & Health Topic. Provides information and resources on cadmium. Documents the criteria and information sources used by NIOSH to determine immediately dangerous to life or health concentrations, including cadmium.
  • Worker Notification Program -Cadmium Recovery Workers (Cadmium). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Includes sections on the following subjects: NIOSH Kidney Study, NIOSH Mortality Study, charts that show the risk of dying from lung cancer for cadmium workers at the plant, Steps to Protect Your Health, Estimated "Relative" Risk of Dying from Lung Cancer, and Additional Resources.
  • Toxicological Profile for Cadmium. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Register, (September 2008).
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). IARC Monographs (volume 58, 1993, Beryllium, Cadmium, Mercury, and Exposures in the Glass Manufacturing industry). The monographs provide readers with detailed information on summaries of the toxicological cancer studies in humans and animals.
  • Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). IRIS is updated by the Environmental Protection Agency and maintained by the National Library of Medicine. The database contains chemical health risk assessments and regulatory information.
  • Public Health Statement for Cadmium. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Register, (September 2008).
  • For additional information regarding carcinogens, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Page on Carcinogens.


Health Problems Caused by Lead

It does not matter if a person breathes-in, swallows, or absorbs lead particles, the health effects are the same; however, the body absorbs higher levels of lead when it is breathed-in.

Within our bodies, lead is absorbed and stored in our bones, blood, and tissues. It does not stay there permanently, rather it is stored there as a source of continual internal exposure. 1 As we age, our bones demineralize and the internal exposures may increase as a result of larger releases of lead from the bone tissue. There is concern that lead may mobilize from the bone among women undergoing menopause.2 Post-menopausal women have been found to have higher blood lead levels than pre-menopausal women. 3