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Probe Sought For Reusable Grocery Bags

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The supermarket Wegmans stopped selling certain reusable grocery bags after learning they could contain high levels of lead.
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The supermarket Wegmans stopped selling certain reusable grocery bags after learning they could contain high levels of lead.

This year, the District's so-called "bag tax" went into effect. It has prompted many to use reusable grocery bags, but there are new concerns about how safe and environmentally friendly some of these bags are.

Over the weekend, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York announced he wanted a federal probe into the safety of reusable grocery bags.

A recent investigation by the Tampa Bay Tribune found some of these bags, which were made in China, had elevated levels of lead. Earlier this fall, the grocery chain Wegmans, which has stores in Virginia and Maryland, announced it would stop selling certain reusable bags because of high lead levels.

Shoppers outside a supermarket in Northwest D.C. said they had no idea about the lead concerns.

"I use them every time I shop," customer Allison Validez says. "Well it depends on how the scientists say the lead could be absorbed into the body. I don't have any children, but if children chewing on the bags could expose them to lead then, yes, I would be concerned."

Safety officials say there is less concern that the lead will rub off on food when the bags are new. They are more worried that as bags wear down lead could accumulate in landfills, creating a potential environmental hazard.

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