Products in discount retailers like dollar stores seem like a great deal and, for some socioeconomic groups, dollar stores may be the only affordable place to buy some essentials. However, a new report suggests consumers may be getting more than they bargained for. The Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse released a report indicating that 40 percent of imported PVC packaging found in discounted retail chains has toxic levels of cadmium or lead, in violation of state laws.
According to TPCH, the toxic packaging is not an isolated problem. It is found across a variety if different products and retail chains:
Packaging from all discount retail chains — a total of eight — where products were purchased failed screening tests for these metals. “Packaging in violation of state laws is likely not one-time sourcing or production mistakes, but rather appears pervasive in imported PVC packaging,” according to Kathleen Hennings of Iowa Department of Natural Resources. For one brand of personal care products, eleven PVC packages were tested, including three different products purchased in 7 states over several months, and all failed for excessive cadmium.
In all of the retail chains examined, at least one-third of the products had illegal levels of toxins in the packaging, with the overall average being 40%. Hardware (80%), household items (75%), and apparel (50%) products were the most likely to have dangerous levels of toxins in the packaging.
TPCH says that the toxic packaging does not pose significant health risks for the individual consumer who is handling the packaging. However, it can create a significant environmental hazard when it is disposed of, creating a broader risk to public health and safety that is not restricted to those who choose to shop in dollar stores.
You can do your part by refusing to buy dollar store items that come in flexible PVC packaging and by asking retailers to stop carrying products packaged in toxic materials.
Photo credit: tr.robinson on flickr