According to a report by the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH) council, the personal care sector, amongst others, was found to have violated state toxics laws in an assessment of heavy metals in packaging.
The report documents the on-going investigation of imported polyvinylchloride (PVC) packaging products for the presence of regulated metals using x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis.
According to the council, researchers targeted products from discount retail chain stores, as two previous in-house studies showed a propensity for toxic substances. The assessment was not confined to specific product sectors and packaging in the personal care, household, and hardware sectors are said to have failed the screening tests.
The report reveals that of eleven PVC packages tested from one personal care brand of products, three different products purchased in seven states over several months failed the test due to excessive cadmium. “These packages contained cadmium or lead, which are restricted by laws in 19 states due to toxicity," states the report.
Lead and cadmium can be added to flexible PVC packaging as an inexpensive plasticizer, overall the assessment revealed that almost 40 percent of all products tested violated state toxic laws.
The outcome, the council says, demonstrates that manufacturers and distributors must be vigilant about their packaging materials, particularly PVC packaging sourced from overseas.
Although these substances may pose little direct risk to the consumer handling the packaging, the TPCH says that it is when the material is disposed of in landfills or incinerators that, “these toxic metals can enter the environment and pose a risk to health and safety.”
"Packaging in violation of state laws is likely not one-time sourcing or production mistakes, but rather appears pervasive in imported PVC packaging," says Kathleen Hennings of Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
As a result of the assessment, retailers are said to have pulled non-compliant products off shelves and from distribution channels rather than face state sanctions.
History of the council
The Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH) was formed in 1992 to promote the Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation. This model legislation was originally drafted by the Source Reduction Council of CONEG in 1989.
The council was developed in an effort to reduce the amount of heavy metals in packaging and packaging components that are sold or distributed throughout the United States.
Specifically, the law is designed to phase out the use and presence of mercury, lead, cadmium and hexavalent chromium in packaging within four years in states that enact the legislation.