Does Banning Plastic Shopping Bags Cause Health Risks?
WA state legislators are pushing, according to sources, for a plastic shopping bag ban statewide. Some cities have already passed them, to go with the plastic straw ban.
But is it healthy? According to information from the New York Post, all these 'crazy' plastic shopping bag bans are actually producing unintended consequences.
Studies as far as as 2010 by the University of Arizona and others point to health risks that arise from people being forced to use other forms of toting groceries.
The most commonly used 'reuseable' style of bag are the canvas or fabric, or even the plastic- based mesh bags for groceries. But the Arizona study showed nearly half of the bags tested came back positive for e-coli, germs and other harmful bacteria. It seems unless they are washed after each trip to the store, these bags become a 'petri dish' for harmful bacteria and pathogens. Even 'clean' during a trip to the store, these bags trap leaks and germs and other pathogens that then 'stick' to groceries.
The New York Daily Post article cites health officials who noticed after San Francisco's 2007 plastic bag ban went into effect, ER and doctor visits related to bacterial infections and illnesses spiked alarmingly. This information was confirmed by studies at George Mason University and the U of Pennsylvania.
And, the Post notes, the other alternative, old fashioned paper bags (even those with handles attached) do not survive any kind of moisture, or adverse weather conditions. Many consumers in San Francisco complained to grocers their food fell out of the bottom of the bag upon coming in contact with any kind of moisture.
And, the amount of pollution and environmental footprint created by the production of paper bags is actually higher and worse than plastic ones.
While that's more of an inconvenience, legislators in WA state would be advised to read these studies and pay attention to the health risks. While plastic bags do cause some issues if not recycled, an outright ban has NOT shown it's the cure all for the environment.