Some plastic bags contain lead, a highly toxic metal banned in the manufacturing of food and beverage packaging.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, revealed its hottest toxic discovery as laboratory tests confirmed the presence of lead ranging from 168 parts per million (ppm) to 521 ppm in five brands of locally-made yellow plastic sando bags.
The group released the results ahead of the International Plastic Bag-Free Day this Thursday, July 3.
“The lead in these single-use carry bags could be attributed to the ink or colorant used to color the bags yellow,” stated Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation and Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition.
As part of its campaign to promote business and industry compliance to the recently promulgated DENR Administrative Order 2013-024, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, the group purchased five packs of yellow sando bags in Divisoria, Manila.
The said policy strictly prohibits the use of lead in the production of packaging for food and drink.
SGS, a global testing company, performed the test using US EPA Method 3052 for the determination of total lead by inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy/atomic absorption spectroscopy (ICP-OES/AAS).
Based on the laboratory analyses, “Centrum” yellow sando bag had 168 ppm of lead, “Swimmer” 322 ppm, “White Dove” 365 ppm, “Sunshine” 437 ppm and “Mercury” 521 ppm.
“Our discovery of lead in these plastic sando bags, which are typically used for both dry and wet goods, including cooked or raw foodstuff, gives one more reason why consumers should ditch plastic bags in favor of eco-friendly and non-toxic reusable bags and containers,” she said.
“While the tests were not meant to establish if the lead in these plastic bags could leach and pose risk to human health, it’s crystal clear that lead is being introduced to commerce through these bags,” she pointed out.
“These toxic bags would later end up as garbage, sent to the dumps, discarded in waterways or incinerated as fuel in cement kilns, causing far-reaching and persistent environmental contamination as lead, being an element, cannot be destroyed,” she lamented.
Lead released through the incineration of lead-containing waste is a major source of childhood lead exposure, according to the booklet “Childhood Lead Poisoning” published by the World Health Organization.
In view of the laboratory findings, the EcoWaste Coalition renewed its appeal to the general public to switch to reusable carry bags and containers that do not contain lead and other toxins such as cadmium and mercury.
The group likewise asked the public to exercise their right to product information and insist on knowing what chemicals are present in bags and containers being offered for sale, plastic or not, single-use or reusable.
The group also emphasized the need for a national law that would ban plastic bags altogether and avoid categorizing bags that allows circumvention of the law.
"Non-reusable bags must be phased out altogether including so-called degradable bags, or lead-free bags - if there is such a thing -, which are just proprietary attempts to perfect a wrong idea."
http://www.toxicsinpackaging.org/projects_publications.html (go to fact sheet)
Note: Under the model Toxics in Packaging Legislation in US, “no intentional introduction of any amount of the four metals (lead, mercury,cadmium and hexavalent chromium) is allowed. The sum of the concentration levels of incidentally introduced lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium present in any package or individual packaging component shall not exceed 100 parts per million by weight.”