Australian health and consumer authorities issued a warning on PVC blinds imported from Asia and Mexico, after testing revealed traces of lead. The warning to Australian consumers follows similar warnings in the United States and Canada.
The Australian tests, conducted in Queensland on behalf of national health authorities, examined 12 brands of imported PVC blinds from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Mexico. Tests show all the venetian blinds contain 0.8-1.9 percent lead by weight.
The Melbourne-based Australian Environmental Health Directors' Forum said that while the tests show that PVC blinds have the potential to contribute to childhood lead exposures, there is insufficient evidence to warrant a national recall. The forum said the lead risk of PVC blinds can be ``markedly reduced by simple maintenance and cleaning every few months.''
Blinds that are old, neglected and constantly exposed to ultraviolet rays are the biggest threat.
The Canberra-based Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs said consumers either should dispose of PVC blinds or ensure they are cleaned regularly to avoid a buildup of lead dust.
The bureau urged Australia's plastics industry to reduce lead content in all PVC products.
Rob Faulkner, corporate affairs manager for Melbourne-based PVC manufacturer Auseon Ltd. and PVC spokesman for Australia's Plastics & Chemical Industries Association, said the industry is reviewing the use of lead in PVC products, including imports.
He said PACIA is developing an industry code of practice for the use of lead in plastic products.
No PVC blinds are manufactured in Australia, but PVC is used widely in other industrial and retail products.
The Sydney-based environmental group Greenpeace Australia has been running a long campaign to ban PVC in Australia.
Matt Ruchel, Greenpeace Australia toxin campaigner, said PVC is an ``environmental poison at almost every point of its life cycle.''
Faulkner said Greenpeace's wide-ranging concerns about PVC are ``scientifically unfounded and completely unreasonable.''