Posted on Jul 02, 2019, 10 p.m.
Typically when the dangers of alcohol are reported it is about the alcohol itself, however new research from the University of Plymouth has found that even the bottles the fluid comes in may be detrimental to health.
Analysis of glass and enamel decorations of a number of clear and coloured beer, wine, and liquor bottle commonly available in UK supermarkets detected potentially harmful levels of toxic elements such as cadmium and lead.
Inside of the actual glass itself low levels of lead, chromium, and cadmium were found. Analysis of the enamel revealed more dangerous levels of lead and cadmium; cadmium concentrations of up to 20,000 parts per million were discovered in bottle decorations for a wide range of beer, wine and spirits, and up to 80,000 ppm were discovered in various wine bottle decorations; the established safe concentration for these elements id 90 ppm.
“It has always been a surprise to see such high levels of toxic elements in the products we use on a daily basis. This is just another example of that, and further evidence of harmful elements being unnecessarily used where there are alternatives available,” explains study leader Dr. Andrew Turner in a statement.
These toxic elements were found to be able to potentially move from the enamel or glass onto other glass pieces; rainfall in a landfill site was simulated, afterwards several fragments of glass would have been deemed hazardous according to the U.S. Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation limits.
“The added potential for these substances to leach into other items during the waste and recycling process is an obvious and additional cause for concern,” says Turner.
X-ray fluorescence spectrometry was used to analyze the alcohol bottles which were either clear, frosted, brown, green, or ultraviolet absorbing green; many of the bottles featured images, patterns, or logos enamled over the part of the exterior which were also analyzed.
As published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology 12 out of the 24 anameled products tested were found to be either entirely or partially made out of lead, cadmium, or both.
“Governments across the world have clear legislation in place to restrict the use of harmful substances on everyday consumer products. But when we contacted suppliers, many of them said the bottles they use are imported or manufactured in a different country than that producing the beverage. This poses obvious challenges for the glass industry and for glass recycling and is perhaps something that needs to be factored in to future legislation covering this area,” Dr. Turner adds.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.