Investigation of 25 kitchen products on the Hong Kong market
Greenpeace East Asia and IPEN
Other Product Testing
Previous studies of painted glasses and kitchen mugs in the Philippines and USA revealed high levels of lead presumably due to the use of lead paint on the ceramic or glass surface. To investigate kitchen products on the Hong Kong market, Greenpeace East Asia and IPEN tested 25 kitchen glasses, cups, and mugs to follow-up on their investigation of toxic metals in children’s products, accessories, and jewelry. The choice of products was deliberately inclined toward products with painted surfaces to test whether they would contain high levels of lead. To see the products containing toxic metals from this follow-up study please click on “Products Tested” above or choose “Kitchen products” from the Item types on the right or choose “Hong Kong” from Cities on the right.
- 25 products from 10 different stores were tested using an XRF analyzer; for more information please see About XRF Technology
- The products primarily consisted of ceramic mugs and painted glasses
- Thirteen products (52%) contained lead greater than the 90 ppm standard for lead in paint used in some countries
- Ten of these lead-containing products contained surprising lead levels of more than 10,000 ppm, more than 100 times the 90 ppm standard
- Two glasses contained more than 40,000 ppm lead
- Two products contained high levels of cadmium but did not contain lead
- Three products did not contain lead or other toxic metals; a white plastic mug, a white ceramic mug, and a plain unpainted glass; this indicates the economic and technical feasibility of substitution
- Price was not an indicator of the likelihood of purchasing a lead-containing product; the three products that did not contain toxic metals were similar or cheaper than the cost of lead-containing products in this study
- Many products contained other toxic metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and chromium.
- None of the products were labeled to reveal lead content or to say that the product did not contain lead or other toxic metals
- Consumers should stop using painted mugs, cups, and glasses and refrain from buying these types of items unless labeled as being lead-free.
- Manufacturers have the primary responsibility for the content and safety of their products. They should immediately substitute lead-free paint on glasses, mugs, cups, and other kitchenware and label them appropriately. Other toxic metals should also be eliminated.
- Government regulators should investigate this issue and strengthen regulations surrounding lead and other toxic metals in kitchenware. The government should adopt a more protective lead concentration limit in kitchen products and other consumer products.
- Retailers selling lead-containing glasses, mugs, and cups identified in this study should remove them from sale to protect consumers from lead exposure.
For news about this study in Chinese, please see Greenpeace East Asia – Hong Kong here: http://www.greenpeace.org/hk/news/stories/toxics/2012/01/cup-testing/
Kitchen products containing greater than 90 ppm lead on the Hong Kong market
|Sample No.||Place of purchase||Product||Lead (ppm)|
|505PRC12082011||137-143 Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok.
生活色彩: 旺角花園街137 143號地舖
|Garfield kitchen glass||2446|
|507PRC12082011||137-143 Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok.
|My Melody - Ceramic Mug with Lid||11406|
|508PRC12082011||137-143 Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok.
|Sesame Street - Ceramic Mug with Lid||11686|
|510PRC12082011||MANIS: Shop NOS 15-17, Level 11 Langham Place, 8 Argyle Street, Mongkok, Kowloon.
|Minna No TABO kitchen mug||11126|
|511PRC12082011||MANIS: Shop NOS 15-17, Level 11 Langham Place, 8 Argyle Street, Mongkok, Kowloon.
MANIS: 九龍旺角朗豪坊11樓NOS 15-17號舖
|KERO KEROKE ROPPI - Jumbo Glass Mug||14920|
|513PRC12082011||Times:137-143 Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok.
|Smile kitchen mug||12644|
|514PRC12082011||Times:137-143 Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok.
|My Mommy kitchen mug||11257|
|515PRC12082011||Times:137-143 Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok.
|Miki's good friends kitchen glass||41586|
|517PRC12082011||TAM CHOI KEE: 175 Sai Yee Street, Mongkok, KLN
|Tumbler Orange kitchen glass||49036|
|518PRC12082011||TAM CHOI KEE: 175 Sai Yee Street, Mongkok, KLN
|N/A kitchen glass||2165|
|519PRC12082011||167 Sai Yee Street, Mongkok, KLN
|Santa Claus kitchen mug||14351|
|520PRC12082011||167 Sai Yee Street, Mongkok, KLN
|Meerket kitchen mug||4820|
|522PRC12082011||167 Sai Yee Street, Mongkok, KLN
|Happy birthday kitchen glass||19383|
|Sample No.||Place of purchase||Product|
|607PRC12122011||G.O.D. 尖沙咀新港中心廣東道30號||White basics ceramic kitchen mug|
|608PRD12122011||G.O.D. 尖沙咀新港中心廣東道30號||Gibraltar 12Oz Rocks Tumbler|
|609PRC12122011||G.O.D. 尖沙咀新港中心廣東道30號||Starred A white plastic mug|
Annex 1: Information about the metals
The metals measured in this study can have a variety of harmful impacts. These substances can cause exposure during manufacture, use, and later during waste handling. Landrigan et al.1 summarized these as follows: infants and children have disproportionately heavy exposures to many environmental agents because they drink more water, eat more food and breath more air per unit body weight compared to adults; children’s metabolic pathways especially in fetal life and in the first months after birth, are immature; developmental processes are easily disrupted during rapid growth and development before and after birth; and children have more years of future life and thus more time to develop diseases initiated by early exposures.
The USA State of California classifies antimony trioxide as a carcinogen.2 Animal studies show that exposure to antimony causes skin irritation, fertility problems, and lung cancer.3 Toxic side effects of antimony treatment for leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis in humans include cardiotoxicity and pancreatitis.4 Antimony can mimic estrogen in laboratory experiments.5
Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen with links to lung, skin, and bladder cancers.6 Studies of human exposure show increased incidence of lung, liver, and heart diseases, lung cancer, and infant mortality.7 Arsenic exposure in humans is also associated with diabetes.8 Low to moderate exposures in humans are associated with skin lesions, high blood pressure, and neurological dysfunction.9 Arsenic exposure is correlated with lower IQ in children.10
Cadmium is a known human carcinogen and associated with cancers of the breast, kidney, lung, pancreas, prostate and urinary bladder.11 The State of California recognizes cadmium as a reproductive toxicant.12 13 Cadmium is taken up by various crops including potatoes, root crops, leafy vegetables, and fruits. Other toxic endpoints include lung damage, renal dysfunction, hepatic injury, bone deficiencies, and hypertension.14
XRF does not distinguish between the two common forms of chromium; chromium III and chromium VI. Chromium III is an essential element in humans but can display moderate toxicity in acute animal tests.15 Chromium VI is a known human carcinogen.16 Dermal exposure to chromium VI can cause dermatitis and ulceration of the skin and chronic inhalation or oral exposure can decrease lung function and affect the liver, kidney and immune systems.17 Lab studies link chromium VI to birth defects and reproductive problems.18
Lead is a well-known neurotoxicant with no safe level of exposure.19 The harms from childhood lead exposure are irreversible and persist into adolescence and adulthood.20 Lead has sensory, motor, cognitive and behavioral impacts, including learning disabilities; attention deficits; disorders in a child’s coordination, visual, spatial and language skills, and anemia.21 The US Centers for Disease Control points out that the safest level for lead in children’s blood is zero.22
Mercury is a well-known neurotoxicant which damages the kidneys and many body systems including the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, hematologic, immune, and reproductive systems.23 The developing nervous system is especially vulnerable to damage from mercury and exposure can lead to loss of IQ, abnormal muscle tone, and losses in motor function, attention, and visual – spatial performance.24
2 — State of California (2003), Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Chemicals known to the State to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity; http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/files/31403LSTA.pdf
3 — Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1992) Toxicological profile for antimony and compounds, US Public Health Service http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/TP.asp?id=332&tid=58
6 — Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1992) Toxicological profile for arsenic, US Public Health Service http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/TP.asp?id=22&tid=3
7 — States JC, Barchowsky A, Cartwright IL, Reichard JF, Futscher BW, Lantz RC (2011) Arsenic toxicology: Translating between experimental models and human pathology, Environ Health Perspect doi:10.1289/ehp.1103441
9 — Chen Y, Parvez F, Gamble M, Islan T, Ahmed A, Argos M, Graziano JH, Ahsan H (2009) Arsenic exposure at low-to-moderate levels and skin lesions, arsenic metabolism, neurological functions, and biomarkers for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases: review of recent findings from the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS) in Bangladesh, Toxic Appl Pharmacol 239:184 - 192
19 — US Centers for Disease Control (2005). Prevention of lead poisoning in young children: a statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, GA USA: CDC; 2005, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/publications/prevleadpoisoning.pdf; (2002) Managing elevated blood lead levels among young children: recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Atlanta, GA: CDC; 2002. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/casemanagement/casemanage_main.htm
21 — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2006) Air Quality Criteria for Lead (September 29, 2006);
WHO (2004) Burden of disease attributable to selected environmental factors and injuries among Europe’s children and adolescents http://www.who.int/quantifying_ehimpacts/publications/9241591900/en/index.html
Review of Scientific Information on Lead (2008), developed by UNEP in response to Governing Council Decisions 23/9 and 22/4 (draft November 2008)
22 — US Centers for Disease Control (2005). Prevention of lead poisoning in young children: a statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, GA USA: CDC; 2005, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/publications/prevleadpoisoning.pdf; (2002) Managing elevated blood lead levels among young children: recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Atlanta, GA: CDC; 2002. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/casemanagement/casemanage_main.htm
23 — UNEP DTIE Chemicals Branch and WHO (2008) Guidance for Identifying Populations at Risk from Mercury Exposure, http://www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/Mercury/MercuryPublications/ GuidanceTrainingmaterialToolkits/GuidanceforIdentifyingPopulationsatRisk/tabid/3616/language/ en-US/Default.aspx
24 — Landrigan PJ, Schecter CB, Lipton JM, Fahs MC, Schwartz J (2002) Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children: Estimates of Morbidity, Mortality, and Costs for Lead Poisoning, Asthma, Cancer, and Developmental Disabilities, Environ Health Perspect 110: doi:10.1289/ehp.02110721