Heavy Metals in the Glass and Enamels of Consumer Container Bottles
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The glass and enameled decorations of bottles of alcoholic beverages sourced from retailers in the U.K. were analyzed by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry for various heavy metals. In the glass substrate, lead, cadmium, and chromium were present at concentrations up to about 1100, 1100, and 3000 μg g-1, respectively, but their environmental and health risks are deemed to be low significance. Of more concern from an environmental and, potentially, occupational exposure perspective are the concentrations and mobilities of Pb and Cd in the enamels of many bottles. Thus, Pb concentrations up to about 100000 μg g-1 were found on the décor of various wine bottles and a beer bottle, and Cd concentrations of up to 20000 μg g-1 were measured in the decorated regions on a range of spirits, beer, and wine bottles. Moreover, maximum concentrations that leached from enameled glass fragments according to a standard test that simulates water and other liquids percolating through a landfill were about 1200 and 3200 μg L-1 for Pb and Cd, respectively, with several fragments exceeding the U.S. Model Toxins in Packaging Legislation and, therefore, defined as "hazardous". Given that safer decorative alternatives are available and that a precautionary principle should be adopted for toxic heavy metals, the pervasive use of Pb and Cd in the enamels of consumer bottles is brought into question.
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