According to recent tests conducted by the Vermont-based nonprofit Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse, bright solid-colored plastic bags may contain high concentrations of lead. This industry/public interest advisory group – formed in an effort to reduce the amount of heavy metals in packaging and packaging components that are sold or distributed throughout the U.S. - screened 125 single-use shopping and mailing bags for the presence of the four regulated metals: lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium in the inks used to print or color the bags.
Cadmium and lead are sometimes added as pigments to colorants in order to make single-use shopping bags more colorful or added to flexible polyvinyl chloride packaging as an inexpensive plasticizer and UV stabilizer. Though these likely pose little risk to consumers when handling the bags, when the end up in landfills, these toxic metals pose health and safety risks to the environment.
“For every 100 pounds of these shopping bags, we’re introducing about one pound of lead into commerce,” said Dr. Alex Stone, a safer chemical alternatives chemist with the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology.
“These bags ultimately end up in our incinerators, landfills, or recycling streams,” said Dr. Stone. “Lead is considered a persistent, bioaccumulative toxin. It’s a metal and isn’t destroyed, but only accumulates.”
These findings only add fuel to the growing trend by cities, regions and countries that are jumping on the “ban the plastic bag” bandwagon. It’s becoming clearer that making the switch to using reusable shopping bags like those offered by companies like Factory Direct Promos is more than a good idea. It’s a healthier and safer choice – for people and for the planet.
Filed under: Health concerns Tagged: | environment, Factory Direct Promos, health, heavy metals, landfills, plastic, plastic bag ban, plastic bags, recycling, reusable shopping bags, Toxics in Plastics Clearinghouse