Lead in Reusable Grocery Bags Raises Concerns

New York Senator Charles Schumer is asking for a federal investigation into reusable grocery bags, following a newspaper report of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">lead content in the products, wrote the Washington Post. Schumer told the Associated Press (AP) that many of these bags, which are widely sold nationwide, are also manufactured in China.

is expected to make an announcement this weekend that he will be contacting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The concern is not so much that lead will rub on to food being transported in new bags, but that lead in older bags will build up in landfills, said the Washington Post. In a landfill, such lead accumulation could lead to serious environmental issues.

The Tampa Tribune reported last week that it determined some bags contained lead levels that worried health officials, said the Washington Post, which noted that the Tribune determined that the heavy metal is in a form not readily extracted or that can leech. Over time, said experts, the bags can degrade and the paint can “flake off,” said the Washington Post.

“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 a statement, reported the Washington Post. Schumer also applauded the supermarket company, Wegmans, which operates in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland, for its recent announcement that it would cease selling some specific reusable shopping bags. “A quick and thorough investigation will allow everyone to make informed, timely decisions,” Schumer said, quoted the Washington Post.

Exposure to lead in children and unborn children can cause brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Lead is also known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, lead can damage the nervous system. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond. Once poisoned, no organ system is immune.

A major challenge with lead poisoning is the difficulty in recognizing its subtle symptoms and that no pathognomonic—or definitive—indicators exist or point to contamination. When faced with peculiar symptoms that do not match any one particular disease, lead poisoning should be considered.

Children with lead poisoning may experience irritability, sleeplessness or excess lethargy, poor appetite, headaches, abdominal pain with or without vomiting—and generally without diarrhea—constipation, and changes in activity level. A child with lead toxicity can be iron deficient and pale because of anemia and can be either hyperactive or lethargic. There may also be dental pointers, for instance, lead lines on gingival tissue. In adults there may be motor problems and an increase in depressive disorders, aggressive behavior, and other maladaptive affective disorders as well as problems with sexual performance, impotence and infertility, as well as increased fetal wastage and sleep disorders, either. They may be over sleeping or have difficulty falling asleep.

Help filing claims and other legal assistance for the victims of lead exposure and poisoning is available at <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">www.yourlawyer.com.

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