ConsumerWatch: Study Finds High Lead Levels In Some Reusable Bags

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Reusable Grocery Bags (CBS)

Reusable Grocery Bags (CBS)

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(CBS 5) — In an effort to go green, many consumers are now turning to reusable bags. But according to a new study, some large retailers are carrying reusable bags that contain dangerous levels of lead.

The study by the group Center for Consumer Freedom found nearly 30 percent of the bags tested had high lead levels, including bags sold at Safeway, Walgreens and CVS.

“There’s no excuse for having lead in a bag,” said Caroline Cox, a spokesperson for the Center for Environmental Health. Most of the lead was found at the insert of the bag.

But unlike the Center for Consumer Freedom who has published an ad warning consumers about the dangers in reusable bags, Cox said they’re not trying to scare consumers. They simply want stricter rules. “Federally, the only standard for lead is in children’s products and also there’s a standard for paint,” Cox said.

Cox adds they would also like see similar standards set for reusable bags especially after a test found Safeway’s Disney themed bag lead content was 3000 parts per million. “The standard for lead in children’s products under federal way is 300 parts per million, so this is more than 10 times that and it would be really hard to argue that this is not a children’s product,” she said.

As a result, the Center for Environmental Health has started litigation against Safeway under California’s consumer protection law. Safeway pulled the Disney bags early this month. Following the Center for Consumer Freedom study, Safeway has also pulled their O Organics bag. CVS said they have recalled some of their bags, while Walgreens said they test their bags for lead.

But when CBS 5 ConsumerWatch went to Safeway and Walgreens, we found we found levels of lead slightly higher than that allowed in children’s toys.

Safeway is looking into our findings and recommends consumers discard the inserts from any old bags and to toss the Disney themed bags. The Center for Environmental Health is also willing to test any bags for concerned consumers at no cost.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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