American Consumers Unaware of Dangers of Cadmium in their living rooms

A new survey of adult consumers in the United States, Britain and Germany revealed a lack of awareness about cadmium, a highly toxic heavy metal used in some home electronics including televisions and computer monitors.

Consumers surveyed seem to be unaware that governments are sanctioning the use of cadmium when suitable alternatives already exist and dominate the television and monitor market. Three-quarters of consumers surveyed in each country rejected cadmium-based products and say they would be willing to purchase safer electronics based on the fact that they did not contain cadmium.

The independent online survey was conducted between November 30 and December 2, 2016 among 1,003 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older; 1,005 U.K. adults, 18 and older; and 1,029 German adults, 18 and older.

Key survey findings and takeaways:

Overall awareness of cadmium and its use in home electronics is low:

  • General awareness of cadmium is low among consumers in these three countries and few are familiar with its use in electronic devices.

Takeaway: Much like lead and mercury campaigns, government needs to have an explanation as to why consumers are not better educated and aware (e.g. product hazard labeling) of cadmium.

Consumers are willing to select televisions and monitors based on the absence of cadmium in order to have safer products in their homes:

  • When educated about Cadmium, concerns about the dangers take precedence over other quality factors (price, energy efficiency, etc). The vast majority — up to 76% of consumers — say they would be willing to purchase a device that did not contain Cadmium. Feeling was so strong on this point that some consumers expressed an opinion that avoiding purchasing products containing cadmium would be their ONLY motivation in purchasing a television or monitor.

Germans are particularly focused on product safety issues:

  • German consumers, in particular, put safety first, with 60% of Germans giving a resounding no to Cadmium-based products – even if a manufacturer claims the products are safe.
  • o If choosing between two devices, one containing Cadmium and the other without, three in five Germans would choose the non-Cadmium product as they would not put themselves or their families at risk.

Takeaway: Government has a duty to inform consumers about the risks of cadmium since they are not being given full information by manufacturers.

Proper waste recycling protocols are still unclear in many countries, multiplying Cadmium’s dangers:

  • The survey identified that general electronic waste recycling is well developed and understood in Germany. This is not the same for all countries surveyed and even for Germany, it is not clear if cadmium specifically is controlled.

Takeaway: The e-waste effects of products containing cadmium pose serious potential health hazards.