After a report finds high levels of lead in reusable grocery bags, a U.S. senator calls for the government to investigate
BY JAIME JOYCE
To help the environment,many Americans have made the switch from paper and plastic bags to reusable grocery bags. But a report by a Florida newspaper says that reusable grocery bags sold by some supermarkets contain high levelsof lead. Lead is a metal that can be harmful to humans, especially young children. Now, Senator Charles Schumer, of New York, is asking the U.S. government to investigate the use of lead in reusableshopping bags.
"When our families go to the grocery store looking for safe and healthy foods to feed their kids, the last thing they should have to worry about are toxic bags, "Schumer said in astatement. "A quick and thorough investigation will allow everyone to make informed, timely decisions," Schumer added.
JIM SHANNON—THE REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN/AP
A store clerk inConnecticut packs groceries in a reusable shopping bag. This bag was not tested in the Florida study.
The Tampa Tribunenewspaper, in Tampa, Florida, bought more than a dozen bags from Floridasupermarkets. They paid a lab to test the bags for lead. The results showed that certain bags sold at Publix and Winn-Dixie supermarkets had lead levels that were a concern to health officials. Some bagshad enough lead that they could be considered hazardous waste if people were to throw the bags out with their household trash.
Lead in the bags is not likely to rub off on food. But over time, painton the bags can chip and the bags can wear out. When this happens, lead can be released.
What Consumers Can Do
The affected bags were found in Florida. But Publix has more than 1,000 stores inAlabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Publix says that all of its bags comply with current federal laws regarding lead content, but that they have asked the makers of the bags to...