A new investigation is sure to cause queasiness among some consumers of goods made from recyled materials. A survey of recycled-content items like cheese graters, tableware, handbags and reclining chairs has turned up unacceptable amounts of radioactive materials, according to ScrippsNews.
Many of the items have been sold for over a decade.
In addition to the consumer goods, radioactive materials have shown up in fencing wire and fence posts, shovel blades, elevator buttons, airline parts and steel used in construction, ScrippsNews reports.
The problems have not all been from abroad.
A Texas recycling facility in 2006 inadvertently melted metal contaminated with Cesium-137, creating 500,000 pounds of radioactive steel byproducts. In 2001, a Florida recycler did something similar, with a resulting 1.4 million pounds of radioactive material. In 1998, 430,000 pounds of steel laced with Cobalt-60 was imported to the U.S. from Brazil.
And those are just a few incidents that have been uncovered. The true amount of radioactive material in recycled content is unknown.
Scrap yards and other recyclers are not required by U.S. or state law to screen for radioactive material.
The article notes that recyclers in China and the Soviet Union are taking advantage of this loophole by sending radioactive materials to the U.S.
Companies, including RAE Systems, sell handheld, wireless radiation detectors.