It was late 2009 that Staci, one of our top trainers and Art of Strength employees, first began showing symptoms pointing to a mysterious illness. Her symptoms; headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, sense of taste distortion (metal taste in her mouth), all pointed towards a diagnosis that eluded numerous doctors.
It wasn’t until she had her hair tested, at the urging of a friend, that a diagnosis was finally made. Her body was loaded with cadmium – more than 4 times the amount that is considered safe. So how does Staci, a trainer, mother, grandmother and wife come into contact with cadmium so directly that it results in such dramatic and unsafe levels?
A clue first came to us after reading an article about high levels of cadmium found in American toys being manufactured in China. Chinese toy manufacturers had replaced lead with cadmium after lead was banned in 2008. Cadmium, though it’s more toxic hadn’t been banned, and poisoned toys were being found all over the United States. We thought, if it’s true for toys, maybe it’s true for the Chinese made kettlebells Staci used daily (sometimes multiple times per day) prior to us manufacturing our own USA made Punch Kettlebells.
So we brought her kettlebells to an independent testing lab, where along with several other foreign made fitness products, where they were put through a battery of tests.
As we awaited the results we thought about the kettlebells and their make-up. Other than being the only link to a foreign made product that Staci handled on a daily basis – what was it that made us suspect these bells? We noticed that these kettlebells, bells that we had all used on a daily basis, not only left a residue but also an odor on our hands after each use – the handles had all been chipped through normal use. When we looked at the physical make-up of the kettlebells we discovered that below the peeling vinyl coating lay layers of body filler used to hide imperfections in the manufacturing process.
After two weeks of waiting the results were in – and they were astounding. Some of the kettlebells, including the kettlebells Staci used on a daily basis, had levels as high as 800-1000ppm of both lead and cadmium, the legal limit for these metals is 20-40ppm making these in excess by nearly 50 times.
How does this happen, and how is it allowed? Though there is no test that can say for sure where Staci received her cadmium poisoning it is clear that being in direct contact with foreign made bells left her at risk to super elevated levels of both lead and cadmium. How these bells contained such high amounts of these metals and still allowed in the United States is a topic that is best saved for another time. Though the regulatory imbalance between US manufacturers versus foreign manufacturers is pretty outrageous – but it’s best saved for another time.
As far as Staci is concerned, her prognosis and recovery was good, the cadmium poisoning was caught before any lasting damage could take place and through medication, dietary changes and yes, new kettlebells, she was able to get out of the danger zone and make a full recovery.
Long-term exposure to high levels of cadmium can lead to birth defects, developmental disorders in children, arthritis, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer.