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Dangers of Reusable Shopping Bags

Environmental concerns are prompting cities across the country to do away with plastic shopping bags.
In their place, grocery shoppers are turning to reusable bags.
And while those bags are better for Mother Earth, reporter Megan Terlecky found out, they may not be so good for your health.

"Pretty much with all of my shopping I use reusable bags. I've always got at least one, two or three in the car."
"I've been using them for years."
"I always have my bags with me whenever I shop."
MORE AND MORE STORES DECIDED TO BAG PLASTIC BAGS AS MORE AND MORE SHOPPERS TURN TO REUSABLE BAGS.
"It saves the environment."
"I think with a lot of things happening in the Earth today in our environment it is definitely go green a better way."
"I get tired of throwing the plastic bags away."
AND THE CITY OF PALM SPRINGS AGREES.
"We've been trying to encourage people to stop the use of single-use plastic bags."
PALM SPRINGS IS ONE OF SEVERAL CITIES IN THE VALLEY STUDYING THE IDEA OF BANNING PLASTIC BAGS.
"The economic impact of just cleaning those up, you'll see them in the trees, you'll see them in the gutters, you'll see them in the streams, then the environmental impacts are huge."
THERE AREN'T ANY DEFINITE PLANS YET, BUT SOME BELIEVE IT'S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME.
"I think we can do it Valley-wide."
"Because it's happened in LA, I think what we are seeing is that it is possible."
"Hopefully, we will see something in 2013."
BUT BEFORE WE ALL TURN TO REUSABLE BAGS, LET'S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK.
AFTER ALL, WE'RE ARE GOING TO EVENTUALLY EAT WHAT GOES IN HERE.
THIS IS ONE IS MADE OUT OF CLOTH, THIS ONE A REUSABLE PLASTIC.
THEY LOOK CLEAN, BUT ARE THEY?
"Right now there are a lot of people using reusable bags."
DOCTOR RYAN SINCLAIR AT LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY TESTED REUSABLE BAGS IN HIS LAB.
HERE'S WHAT HE FOUND:
"Overall, we found that 10 percent of the bags had E. coli, about 50 percent around there had chloroforms and almost all of them had some kind of bacteria."
DOCTOR SINCLAIR FOUND THE SAME TYPE OF BACTERIA INSIDE THESE BAGS AS YOU WOULD FIND IN DIRTY UNDERWEAR.
"I don't think anyone wants fecal bacteria in their grocery bag."
AND THINK ABOUT THIS: MOST OF US STORE THESE IN THE BACK OF OUR CARS -- A WARM, DARK PLACE, THE PERFECT BREEDING GROUND FOR BACTERIA.
"Oh, you're kidding, I would have never thought that." .
"That is shocking. That is shocking. Really?"
"Oh, that's terrible."
"Oh, Yuck. Really?"
"Gosh, because that's, ya know, that's one thing with our foods and our groceries we don't want to have any of that contamination going on."
THE DANGER IS REAL.
JUST RECENTLY SCIENTISTS TRACED A 2010 OUTBREAK OF NOROVIRUS IN OREGON TO A REUSABLE BAG.
IT CONTAINED CONTAMINATED FOOD FOR A GIRLS' SOCCER TEAM.
"They are a public health concern."
BEFORE YOU THROW OUT YOUR REUSABLE BAGS, THERE IS A SIMPLE SOLUTION: TREAT THEM LIKE YOU TREAT YOUR UNDERWEAR.
"This just means the bag is dirty, it's dirty just like your socks will be dirty or it's dirty just like your underwear will be dirty, so we know that we have to wash our underwear and our socks. However, for some reason, reusable grocery bags are a new addition to our culture and our society and so the word isn't quite out yet that you have to wash these things."
"Next on the laundry list. Thats' what I'm going to do when I get home now."

Dr. Sinclair's study shows a cycle in the washing machine gets rid of the potentially harmful bacteria.


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