The Canadian government has proposed stronger regulations to protect children from exposure to lead and cadmium in jewellery and other children's products, including clothing and accessories.

According to Health Canada, the proposals would strengthen current limits on lead in consumer products and set regulatory limits for cadmium in children's jewellery.

It adds that exposure to lead and cadmium may pose a "significant health risk" to humans with current science indicating exposure to even very low levels of the naturally occurring toxic metals may be harmful to children.

"Parents and caregivers should have confidence that the children's products they purchase in Canada are safe," says Canada's minister of health Jane Philpott. "The changes proposed by Health Canada today will further strengthen existing regulations on lead limits and introduce new limits for cadmium to help protect our children."

The agency aims to publish the proposed Consumer Products Containing Lead Regulations and proposed amendments to the Children's Jewellery Regulations for public consultation, under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA).

The amendments to the Children's Jewellery Regulations propose to further reduce the current limit on lead in children's jewellery and set a strict limit for cadmium in children's jewellery items small enough to be swallowed.

Meanwhile, the proposed Consumer Products Containing Lead Regulations will broaden the strict limits for lead in consumer products that children are likely to be in contact with to include toys for children aged three to 14, children's clothing and accessories, and products whose primary purpose is to facilitate the relaxation, sleep, hygiene, carrying or transportation of a child less than four years of age.

Currently, there is a 90 mg/kg total lead limit for toys intended for children under three years of age. This limit is being expanded to include more consumer products, including children's jewellery.

There is presently no specific regulatory limit in Canada for cadmium in children's jewellery and while the agency says it is "unlikely" children will suck or chew on items made with cadmium due to its bitter taste, the department's proposed limit of 130 mg/kg total cadmium will help protect children.

Meanwhile, risk assessments by Health Canada scientists have determined that a 90 mg/kg total lead limit and 130 mg/kg cadmium limit effectively precludes the intentional addition of lead to products during the manufacturing process and helps protect children against toxicity associated with exposure to these metals.

This strict lead limit is similar to the limits in place in the European Union and the United States.

The Government of Canada is encouragig Canadians to review the proposed regulatory changes and to submit feedback to Health Canada by 15 February 2017.