40% of Dollar Store Packaging Contains Illegal Levels of Toxins

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


Sandra L.
Sandra L.1 years ago

To be honest it is very stupid to buy such items for such low price. You must understand that there is a trap, because it can not be so cheap. Also I have a question where this items are produced. If we have such shops, this means that some factories produce them and also pollute our nature. The other possible variant is that we buy them from China or other country. The other problem is that there are many people who really need such things. They use a help of online payday loans direct lenders to pay for their commodities and utilities, and they have no financial possibility to pay more for these items. And this problem should be reviewed by the government.

Marcillane Basso
Marcillane Basso4 years ago

this does not surprise me at all, it is all a dollar, what did you expect!

Kimberly Simms
Kimberly S.4 years ago

A big part of the problem is that we seriously need to rethink packaging altogether.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola4 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson4 years ago

Alex H. just said exactly what I want to say! Great comment, Alex! when I worked for Big Lot's/Pic"N"Save, we had to "trash"tons of flip-flopp" sandles and chalkboards, that we had recEIved from China, as the fumes filled up the store isles and made all of us employees sick and then our customers..the fumes were "outrageous", and people, almost all of us threwup, on the floor right now, including while we tried to box it all back up and get it to the back of the building outside!...NO JOKE, TRUE STORY!!

Winn Adams
Winn Adams4 years ago


Alex H.
Alex H.4 years ago

The tragedy of these "dollar stores"is that more and more people shop there because of their tight budgets.Where does most of the stuff come from?! China,a country which in my opinion,undervalues its own population,so what can we expect from them?! One could almost draw a long bow and think that this growing power,is out to quietly make us very sick indeed,and perhaps kill us off,with their toxic products??.Even children's toys have been found to have lead paint on them,what a disgrace! Cheap,nasty products don't last so it makes better sense to pay a bit more for a home-manufactured product,that's if you can find one!

David N.
David N.4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson4 years ago


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson4 years ago