Toxic substances found in imported PVC packaging in the USA

The Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse conducted an assessment of toxic substances in discount retail store packaging and found that 40 percent of imported PVC packaging of products tested, sold by discount retail chains, violated state laws for the presence of cadmium or lead.

A spokesperson for the  Iowa Department of Natural Resources is quoted by the Clearinghouse as stating that “Packaging in violation of state laws is likely not one-time sourcing or production mistakes, but rather appears pervasive in imported PVC packaging.”

Nineteen U.S. states have laws that prohibit the sale or distribution of packaging containing intentionally added cadmium, lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium, and set limits on the incidental concentration of these materials in packaging. Most of the packaging samples that failed to meet state requirements came from China, with one from Pakistan and one of unknown origin. Products packaged in PVC with excessive concentrations of toxic substances were in the categories of personal care/cosmetics; toys and games; hardware; household; home furnishings; art supplies/crafts; pet supplies; and apparel. TPCH does not identify the stores involved but does state that they are not small independent stores: “The selected retailers operated stores in multiple states. The smallest retail chain had over 100 locations in seven states, while the largest retailers had stores across the United States. Six of the eight retail chains had at least 1,000 locations in 35 or more U.S. states.”

The Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse is located at the Northeast Recycling Council Inc. and is supported by a number of states and a few industry associations including the American Chemistry Council – Northeast Region. The ACC is an industry association representing companies in the business of chemistry.

The TPCH and a link to the full report can be found at

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