Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., now wants investigation of *reusable* grocery bags 

Via Cubachi, comes this story from the Tampa Tribune about the Senior Senator from New York’s new found zeal to investigate the dangers of reusable grocery bags. Apparently not content with banning and/or taxing plastic grocery bags, Schumer is now threatening to regulate the reusable grocery bags that have been foisted on us in their place:

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York asked federal agencies Sunday to investigate and ban reusable shopping bags with dangerous levels of lead following a Tampa Tribune investigation that found high levels in bags sold in the Bay area.

Schumer, the senior senator from New York, called on the federal Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate whether any of the reusable bags being sold at groceries and other stores across the country pose a danger.

Because the bags are being used to carry food, high lead levels pose a danger to the country’s food supply, Schumer said in a letter addressed to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Lead is linked to learning disabilities in children and fertility problems in adults. Health advocates say any level of lead is toxic.

The lead found in the grocery bags the Tribune tested would not easily rub off on food, and merely touching one of the bags is unlikely to prove harmful, according to Hugh Rodrigues, president of Thornton Laboratories in Tampa, which tested the bags. Over time, though, as the bags wear down, their paint can flake off and threads fray, releasing the lead. The more elaborate the illustrations on the bags, the more likely they are to contain toxic lead, the Tribune investigation found. Yellow and green paint on bags is a common carrier of lead.

So in other words, now that environmentalists campaigned to do away with plastic bags, people are now being exposed to lead paint. Schumer is predictably demagoguing China — a favorite hobbyhorse of his — over the issue, as that’s where the bags are made. However, someone should point out that one of the main reasons behind plastic grocery bags in the first place was food safety — they’re very safe containers for food, and in particular make it really to prevent cross contamination with your food from meat, chemicals and other items you might buy at the store. And certainly, they’re much safer than bags from China with lead paint. But someone should really point out that, yet again, the unintended consequences of environmental policy may actually be harming humans.

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Mark Hemingway

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