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State Testing of Single-Use Shopping and Mailing Bags for Lead and Cadmium Imminent

Date: Dec 12, 2011

Following up on previous efforts, the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH) is continuing to evaluate compliance with state toxics in packaging laws. Specifically, the TPCH has announced it will test single-use shopping bags and mailing bags for lead and cadmium from inks and colorants.

Background on the TPCH

Nineteen states have adopted legislation developed by the Coalition of Northeastern Governors ("CONEG") phasing-out the use and presence of mercury, lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium in packaging.[1] Specifically, these laws: (1) prohibit the intentional addition of these four heavy metals in packaging and packaging components; and (2) limit the sum of incidentally introduced lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium to 100 ppm by weight. Manufacturers and suppliers must also provide certificates of compliance to purchasers. The TPCH facilitates implementation of these statutes.

Details About the Bag Study

The TPCH is initiating this study because earlier studies and enforcement activities suggested inks and colorants in single-use bags are a common area of noncompliance. The TPCH plans to collect retail samples of single-use shopping bags and mailing bags for the study through its member states. The TPCH will then test the bags for the presence of lead and cadmium using portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer. Member states will be informed of the results and will have the option to perform confirmatory laboratory testing and pursue enforcement actions. Testing is currently scheduled for January.

Other recent TPCH studies have focused on analytical capabilities. Specifically, the TPCH is planning a study to evaluate inter-method consistency between XRF and conventional analysis using acid digestion of lead in glass packaging, under a grant from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. More information on this study is available on our website. In July, the TPCH released the results of a round robin study of laboratory consistency in analyses of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) matrices. That study found significant variability in the detected amounts of lead and cadmium in PVC matrices, likely due to inconsistent sample preparation techniques. Our summary of the issues identified by that report is also available on our website.

For more information on state toxics in packaging laws, heavy metal testing, and related matters, contact JC Walker (202.434.4181, walker@khlaw.com) or Greg Clark (202.434.4302, clarkg@khlaw.com).


[1] The states are: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.