Lunch boxes and lead

The mind really does boggle when you start digging around and discovering the sheer scale of environmental toxins that are in items that we use every day. It becomes even more frightening when it involves our children.

A couple of years ago, dozens of soft vinyl lunch boxes tested by scientists on the USA government’s payroll revealed that 20% had lead levels over what’s considered by the medical fraternity to be unsafe. Even more disturbing were a few that had 10 times the lead levels considered to be hazardous.

What’s especially frightening was that after the study, according to this article, the Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that they found “no instances of hazardous levels.” Their reasoning: that kids don’t chew on the lunch boxes and the food that’s in it is usually wrapped.

That may be true, but what loving parent would knowingly allow such a dangerous toxin such as lead so close to their child’s food. It only takes a miniscule amount of lead to cause health, behavioral and developmental issues in children. As lead is a cumulative poison, it never leaves the body; so any tiny amount from lunch boxes is just adding to lead that children may be ingesting from other sources.

Aside from that, these lunch boxes have a limited lifespan – they tear or break, or kids grow out of the cuddly animals printed on them and a new lunch box is purchased. How many of these are discarded each year; their payload of lead winding up in the environment, not to mention other toxins in the plastic and inks?

Lead is utilized as a vinyl stabilizing agent, but there are alternative chemicals that can be used. Many companies are now switching from lead to these alternatives, but it pays to do a bit of research on earth friendly lunch boxes – there’s options such as lead free PVC (still not really earth friendly), cotton cloth bags, woven reed or bamboo; and of course, the good old recycled paper bag.