These days, the campaign against disposables is spreading. The Korea government has also legislated a law for restricting the use of plastic bags. In addition, many people are now using tumblers to help reduce disposable cups. Recently, some tumbler products sold by famous coffee shops and the Internet were found to be high in lead content.
On the 16th of July, the Korea Consumer Agency announced a large quantity of lead was detected on the outer surface of tumblers sold at nine coffee shops, three household goods stores, three stationery stores, four large retailers, and five online shopping malls. Specifically, the stainless tumbler of popular brand Rilakkuma, was found to contain lead amounting to 79,606 milligrams per kilogram. It exceeded the international standard of 90 per kilogram by 880 times.
As a result, four famous manufacturers voluntarily stopped selling and recalled their tumblers. Experts say that lead is an accumulative poisonous metal that affects multiple body systems and can cause loss of appetite, anemia, and muscle weakness. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) put lead as a possible carcinogen in 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans) category. It is particularly harmful to young children.
Why are we finding lead in tumblers?
Lead paint has been commonly used for steel surface protection and design. It can express colors clearly which is why it is often used. The Food Sanitation Act, a law in relation to food safety, prevents manufacturers from importing and selling food-related containers or packages that contain poisonous materials which cause harm to humans. However, a problem of the law is that it is only related to the inside of a food container. That is, Korea has no law for harmful substances on the outer surface of food containers.
Therefore, the Consumer Agency will urge the Food and Drug Administration to establish standards for controlling hazardous substances on the external surface. Until a new law is made, consumers can check tumblers that contain lead on the Korea Consumer Agency website (www.kca.go.kr). Also, experts say do not use tumblers that have patches of paint.