After reading the 10 most suprising places to find petroleum, it seems that oil is the environmental villain du jour, and it’s seeping more and more into our everyday lives. As a Center for Environmental Health investigation reports, petroleum and toxic chemicals are finding ways to get even closer to us — by showing up in our closets.
The CEH tested purses from 100 U.S. retail stores made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. Many people buy PVC purses and shoes for a cheaper, animal-free, leather alternative. But although PVC doesn’t require an animal’s skin, as the report suggests, it’s not a very earth-friendly alternative.
Many of the purses harbored shockingly high levels of lead, a known toxin linked with cancer, infertility, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other health problems. The levels of lead in some bags were 100 times higher than the “safe” level of lead set for children’s toys (though many scientists suspect there is no “safe” level of lead).
Some stores with lead-laden purses, like H&M, have promised to enforce better standards for products’ lead content. However, even if PVC products don’t contain high levels of lead, the other ingredients in these purses are far from safe.