FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Group Demands Action to Ban Children's Lunchboxes Containing Lead
Ecology Responds Quickly To Get Products Off Store Shelves
In response to a request from the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) to prohibit the sale of children's soft vinyl lunchboxes that contain high levels of lead -- a persistent toxic chemical that can have long-term health effects, including learning deficits and reduced IQ -- the Department of Ecology has announced plans to remove the products from store shelves.
In response to a request from the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) to prohibit the sale of children's soft vinyl lunchboxes that contain high levels of lead -- a persistent toxic chemical that can have long-term health effects, including learning deficits and reduced IQ -- the Department of Ecology has announced plans to remove the products from store shelves. A September study by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found high levels of lead in many children's lunchboxes.
"Parents have enough to worry about in keeping their children healthy and safe. Whether a lunchbox will damage their child's ability to learn shouldn't be one of them," said Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, environmental health advocate for WTC. "Ecology is doing the right thing by ensuring these lunchboxes do not remain on the shelf."
The group requested that Ecology take action under a Washington law that prohibits the sale of packaging products and other packages, including carrying cases, that contain over 100 ppm of lead. One of the lunchboxes in the CEH study was found to have more than 560 times the standard. Under the law, manufacturers must certify to Ecology that their lunchboxes do not contain lead in excess of the legal limit. Yesterday, Ecology sent letters to manufacturers asking for the certification. If the manufacturers cannot provide the certification, then Ecology can prohibit the sale of the lunchboxes in Washington state.
Recently, the New York attorney general successfully used a similar New York law to force one lunchbox distributor to recall all of their lunchboxes that contained lead in excess of the 100 ppm limit.
Lead is toxic to the brain and nervous system and can have long-term effects including causing learning deficits and reducing IQ. Sixteen percent of all American children have elevated blood lead levels. Scientists believe there is no safe level of lead for developing children. It has already been banned in gasoline, paints, and other products.
"It's a travesty to see children's products containing a toxic chemical like lead when we have known for decades that lead harms kids' ability to learn," said Dr. Steve Gilbert, a toxicologist specializing in the brain and nervous system. "Exposure to lead at any level is hazardous for children, and the state needs to take prompt action to recall products that contain lead."
WTC is also calling on Ecology to take additional action to prevent the use of lead and other toxic chemicals in consumer products. Because weak federal laws allow manufacturers to put toxic chemicals into everyday consumer products, consumers have no way of knowing whether a product they buy is harmful to their health.
"The fact that even kids' lunchboxes contain a chemical already banned in paint and gasoline shows the need for better regulatory safeguards on chemicals. Washington state should quickly act to protect consumers from harmful products by preventing the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products," said Sager-Rosenthal.
A copy of WTC's letter to Ecology including a list of brands (64kb PDF file) of lunchboxes that tested high for lead is attached.
Washington Toxics Coalition
206-632-1545 ext. 122