Important Safety Information About Heavy Metals and Polymer Clay

Cadmium Yellow Polymer Clay “Jewelry containing cadmium is being pulled off store shelves in the US.” ~Roxanne-M

Recently there has been some concerns about levels of the cadmium heavy metal in certain jewelry products. Roxanne Morgan, a valued member at the Polymer Clay Video Library, was wondering if this is something that us clayers need to be concerned about.

Due to the recent controversy in the US related to high levels of cadmium in jewelry, I was wondering if you have any knowledge of cadmium content in polymer clay. I notice that Premo has two colors specifically labeled as, Cadmium Yellow Hue and Cadmium Red Hue. Jewelry containing cadmium is being pulled off store shelves in the US. I am concerned about polymer clay containing cadmium. Any info would be appreciated. ~Roxanne-M

Well, before I could even blink (ok that’s a bit of an exaggeration), Roxanne had sent off a letter to Polyform, the makers of Premo Sculpey, requesting some feedback. And almost just as fast, Polyform responded with some wonderful reassurance that there products do NOT contain any heavy metals. Here is their response… straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Dear Roxanne,

Thank you for contacting Polyform Products Company. The Premo clays in Cadmium Red Hue and Cadmium Yellow Hue colors do NOT contain the heavy metal cadmium. The Premo clay is designed for artists using the traditional color palette and was designed for mixing the clay colors. The traditional color palette was based on the rich colors that the old time heavy metal pigments provide. We mimic these colors with our clay colors but we do not use any heavy metals in our pigments. This is why our clays are named with the traditional color name and then HUE on the end. It lets the artist know that when color mixing, this is similar to the color in the color palette for mixing.

ALL of Polyform Products brand oven-bake clays and the pigments we use are AP seal certified by the Art & Creative Materials Institute and have been reviewed by the Toxicologists at Duke University, to ensure that the products are non-toxic and do not contain any heavy metals.

Rest assured, Safety is a number one priority at Polyform Products.

~Polyform Products Company

Thank you Roxanne for sharing your research notes with everyone here. We all appreciate it very much. And thank you Polyform for being so responsive to your loyal customers.

It’s excellent to know we can feel safe about using the Premo brand Cadmium Hued colors. Based on the information above from Polyform, we can also feel assured that their other traditional pigment based colors such as Cobalt, Zinc, Ultra Marine, and Alizarin Crimson… are free of heavy metals as well. Yay!

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  1. Elizabeth S., 08 February, 2010

    Thanks, Roxanne, for your good eye. I would have never made that connection or questioned whether there could be a safety element to be concerned about. Your investigation reassures all of us.

  2. Bonnie, 08 February, 2010

    Thanks Roxanne, information is great.

    Did you see the letter from Prairie Craft about the Kato clay? They are reformulating it again so it will be easier to condition so the shelves are empty. It will be interesting to see what the new clay is like. I put mine in a plastic bag and run over it with the car wheels a dozen times. LOL. Usually I put it in a bag and hammer it with a mallet. It still has more odor than other clays but it is great for making canes.

  3. Cindy Lietz, 08 February, 2010

    @Bonnie: FYI: In case you did not yet see the latest comments from yesterday’s post, there is more info and opinions about the new KatoClay formula over there. The link by my name will take take you there.

  4. Joyce M, 08 February, 2010

    Thank you, Roxanne. I did wonder about the “cadmium” associated with the Premo polymer clay. So glad to see it is in name only. Would not like giving up those colors. Oh happy day.

    Bonnie, visited your blog and you are one fun lady. Your work is strickingly beautiful.

  5. Elizabeth S., 08 February, 2010


    I was intrigued by Joyce’s post and visited your blog also. Your pieces are breathtaking!

  6. carolyn, 08 February, 2010

    This doesn’t pertain to cadmium, but some of you may have noted my posting including comments about a sale at church. Well, that took place yesterday – in the midst of a big snow storm. My son’s friend plowed out my driveway at 7 a.m. so I was able to make it out. I feared that attendance would be low – and it was. I just dedicated it all to the Lord and let Him worry about sales, after all, all the money goes directly to the church for His work. Well … we had the highest sales in over a year. I’m delighted to also report that 12 of the items sold were PC! Everyone seemed to love it and were amazed that I had made the pieces. Praise God – and thank you to those of you who were holding me up in prayer.

  7. Cindy Lietz, 08 February, 2010

    @carolyn: That is WONDERFUL to hear about the success of your church sale! You have been building up to this for quite a while… thank goodness that you didn’t get completely snowed in!

  8. Phaedrakat, 08 February, 2010

    @Carolyn: I’m so happy to hear that you sold so many PC creations! Congratulations on that. You’re a creative soul, and thankfully, a giving one as well!

    @Bonnie: What lovely pieces you have on your website! I want that hinged pendant — beautiful! I’m a bit jealous about your Tory Hughes class. How cool would that be?

    I never made the connection about the Cadmium, but I’m happy to know we don’t have to worry about it. I did notice the word “Hue” added to some of the colors (like Alizarin Crimson changed to Alizarin Crimson Hue.) Now I know why…!

  9. Bonnie, 08 February, 2010

    Thanks Cindy and thanks ladies for visiting my blog. I took a Jana Robets Benzon 2 day class 2 years ago and she aksed that we only use Kato clay because we were making a huge cane. This was before we knew how to condition it. Three of us broke pasta machines and we had to condition about 2 pounds of clay. Most of it wasn’t too bad but the black just wouldn’t condition. Then Jana told us about the Jana Whack method. I know they say the new conditioning method works too where you put a single sheet through the pasta machine and change settings but it hasn’t worked for some of the stuff I have. I took a Tory Huges class this weekend and she doesn’t even use a pasta machine. She conditions everything by hand and uses a drinking glass to roll it out. I still like Premo and it doesn’t give me a headache.

  10. Susan, 08 February, 2010

    Great post and a valid concern. Thanks.

  11. Cheryl Hodges, 11 February, 2010

    I saw the title of the post about Cadmium, i was on my way out and so did not read. I was going to email Polyform too , so thank you Roxanne. We can breathe easy.

    I’ve been trying to work with premo silver clay and I conditioned with the pasta machine. it seems to roll out but I still have the edges cracking – should i keep on conditioning? I had bought it with several other colors and they are all good.

  12. Carolyn Good, 11 February, 2010

    One thing that people keep missing on this cadmium issue is the jewelry that is being pulled is “children’s” jewelry and this is because they have a tendency to put things in their mouths and suck on them. Unless you have a habit of doing the same there really isn’t anything to worry about.

  13. Cindy Lietz, 16 February, 2010

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

    @Bonnie: Sounds like you had a great time with those gurus! There is so much that can be learned from the different polymer clay masters. You are lucky to have been able to attend their workshops!

    @Cheryl: There will almost always be a little cracking along the edges of the firmer clays, no matter how much you condition, so don’t worry too much about it.

    @Carolyn Good: You have a good point here. It is probably best not to suck on any of your jewelry, cadmium free or not! :-)

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