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Schumer Wants Lead Probe For Reusable Grocery Bags

ALBANY, N.Y. (1010 WINS/WCBS 880/CBS 2/AP) -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York is seeking a federal investigation following a newspaper report of lead content in some reusable grocery bags.

The Senator said that many of the reusable grocery bags sold nationwide are manufactured in China. Schumer announced Sunday that he is contacting the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"I'm calling on the FDA working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the EPA to immediately ban any of these bags that have elevated levels of lead," Schumer said.


LISTEN: WCBS 880's Mike Xirinachs reports

CBS 2's Dave Carlin reported that the lead appeared to be in a form that was not easily extracted. There was, however, concern that over time the bags could wear down and the paint could flake off.

Williamsbridge resident Chaka Johnson said she uses the reusable bags instead of paper or plastic and was surprised to hear about the safety concern.

"Now that I know, I'm just very shocked," Johnson told Carlin.

Schumer also emphasized the need to be hold China accountable.

"China has no regard for American safety. It's a place notorious for lax safety and health standards," Schumer said. "A record of manufactured products with things like cadmium and lead come from China."

At the same time, Schumer said it takes some time before the lead poses a serious health concern, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.


LISTEN: 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reports

"People are going to ask, 'is there an immediate danger?'" Schumer said. "The good news is there's not. Lead when it gets into your system takes years to accumulate to have harmful effects and these bags are relatively new."

There is less concern the lead would easily rub off on food when the bags are new, but there was a concern that as bags wear down, lead could accumulate in landfills, creating a potential environmental hazard.

Last week, the Tampa Tribune found some bags had lead levels that concerned health officials.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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