The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday said that of 15 stainless steel thermal beverage containers it examined in October last year, two lids contained heavy metals — lead and cadmium — and 14 contained plasticizers.
Yeh Shin-cheng (葉欣誠), a professor at National Taiwan Normal University’s Graduate Institute of Environmental Education and an inspector at the foundation, said both heavy metals are often regarded as key substances to look out for when testing products.
“Overexposure to lead can cause significant harm to the nervous system, especially in children, and over exposure to cadmium can cause damage to the bones and kidneys,” Yeh said.
“While ingesting these heavy metals will not cause ill effects immediately, they may harm people’s health in the long term if the substances build up in the human body,” Yeh added.
Yeh said the heavy metals contained in the lids are mainly from paint used for aesthetic purposes, and not from the stainless steel or plastic material itself.
Foundation chairperson Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said that although the results showed that 14 of the lids contained plasticizers and two of them contained lead and cadmium, other test results showed that the amounts dissolved into beverages were all within safety standards.
“Consumers don’t have to be afraid to use these products,” she said. “We mainly want to urge manufacturers to clearly state usage instructions, including information such as the maximum temperature they are designed to withstand.”
In addition, Yeh said people should avoid filling the containers with hot water, as the plastic lids are more likely to release toxic substances when exposed to high temperatures.
People should also try to avoid filling the vessels with acidic beverages, as this may cause a chemical reaction with the lids, she added.
Apart from examining the material composition of the containers, Hwang Yu-sheng (黃鈺生), the publisher of the foundation’s Consumer Reports magazine, said the foundation’s report showed that all of the vessels were up to standard when it came to keeping liquids warm.
The report showed that all the containers tested kept boiled water at temperatures above 50oC for five hours.
“However, we found that the instructions on some of the products were unclear, with nine products not conforming to the Commodity Labeling Act (商品標示法),” Hwang said, while holding up some packaging. “For example, this product doesn’t have any instructions in Chinese.”
Other labeling problems included not naming the country of origin or the material composition.