Pesticides in Shipping Containers and Contents

Did you know that there can be massive amounts of highly toxic pesticides used in the shipping containers, especially when products and materials are shipped over seas?

The Toxins Return

In a world where recycling is being encouraged, this presents some potentially serious  problems that aren’t being widely discussed. Some things have simply not been designed to be reused, and recycling toxic materials just spreads the contamination further afield, causing low level poisoning and some kinds of chronic health problems.

The trend to build all kinds of indoor furniture and garden beds out of pallets is quite troubling. The pallets used in these containers would also have absorbed the pesticides and be unsafe for re-use. This article describes other issues with pallets.

potentially dangerous pallet reuse google imagesScreen shot from google image search of reused pallets
Note potentially hazardous furniture for children and food use

Converting shipping containers into homes is another big trend (see below).

The following documentary depicts some serious problems related to clothing (as well as some other items that were shipped long distances) when saturated with health harming levels of pesticides. Manufacturing issues are also examined in this video.

The Toxins Return

“It is here that clothing giants like H&M find their suppliers. Julia was a loyal employee of a H&M store until repeated exposure to shipments left her seriously ill. ‘I was in a bad state’ she remembers ‘if I’d stayed any longer, I would have lost my kidneys’.

I’ve personally had organic clothing arrive saturated in pesticides.

Shoes are not exempt from pesticide contamination:

Suit alleges shoe boxes contain ingredient in rat repellent
… “The two companies both make items to thwart the growth of fungus or mold, which can ruin shoes during shipment by sea. Because most shoes sold in the U.S. come from Asia aboard cargo container ships that take multi-day ocean voyages, footwear manufacturers commonly put some kind of anti-moisture packing material in shoe boxes, usually silica gel packets or anti-fungal stickers or sheets.” …

And then there is this:

The Pros and Cons of Cargo Container Architecture

… “Shipping container architecture gets a lot of encouraging coverage in the design world as a trendy green alternative to traditional building materials, and seems like a smart choice for people looking for eco-consciousness. However, there are a lot of downsides to building with cargo containers. For instance, the coatings used to make the containers durable for ocean transport also happen to contain a number of harmful chemicals, such as chromate, phosphorous, and lead-based paints. Moreover, wood floors that line the majority of shipping container buildings are infused with hazardous chemical pesticides like arsenic and chromium to keep pests away.” …

screen shot of google images

screen shot from google images of shipping container homes

Collateral contamination / collateral damage

Toxic contamination and subsequent health damage can come from so many unexpected places for those of us who are more “sensitive” to pollution, and it can send those of you who are not yet affected on your way to toxic overload.

We need verified, safe supply chains, especially for children, those of us with MCS/ES and other vulnerable populations (I would include all life forms here). We need laws, regulations and industrial systems that keep toxic chemicals away from daily use where unintended consequences create collateral damage with no-one accepting responsibility to repair the damages their harmful substances have caused after being released on an unsuspecting public. Too many are adversely affected now. There is no away…

I’ll close with this (which I saw on facebook):

“The world’s not getting any younger. Or healthier. And until the Mars housing market opens up, we’re stuck with Earth as our home. So why not take better care of it?”

12 responses to “Pesticides in Shipping Containers and Contents

    • As are all the other ways we can be poisoned… Becoming aware of where the risks are allows us to take precautions to protect ourselves and our families AND make calls or write letters to the responsible parties that this is not acceptable!

  1. Ugh. I always wonder about this when I see these recycled crafts projects on Pinterest.

    • I used to leave comments on fb when this idea 1st became popular, but couldn’t keep up with the volume.
      The other one that is so unfortunate is old tires as planters.
      Some things should not be re-purposed or recycled.
      Like recycled plastic. If it doesn’t smell like it’s been in a fire, it emanates toxic laundry product chemicals…
      Think I can find a mouse that doesn’t have a recycled fabric softener bottle scroll wheel?
      Think I can find a tech company that knows where and how their plastic parts are made?

  2. That film was horrifying! Especially awful was the sight of the Indian workers standing in pools of bleach and other chemicals and handling pesticides and the Chinese workers working with toxic paints without any protection whatsoever.

    • I know…
      It’s absolutely disgusting how modern industry has such a complete disregard for health and safety and how they drive consumption of cheap, toxic, disposable stuff here for profits that benefit only a very few while harming so very many.

      There are efforts to create new toxics laws, but industries have been doing everything they can to prevent progress with that, and indeed find more ways to spread their poisons…

      Grr… Makes me want to flex some of my wasted muscles and do something!

      Greenpeace has been doing some great work with their Toxic Threads series (I forgot to link to it in the post).

      The Mind the Store campaign is going after retailers to stop carrying things that are made with a list of over 100 really harmful, yet very common chemicals.

      Call the retailers and manufacturers and government reps and say you want change!

  3. The Greenpeace reports (in the right hand side bar) and blog posts can be found here:

  4. Thank you for digging up the hard truths and spreading the news – I love that I can count on you for that!

    • Some day I really want to be the bearer of only good news!!! That toxic chemicals and harmful industrial practices for profit are banned and that everyone in society cares about everyone’s well-being…

  5. ‘Huge gap’ in Health Canada’s ability to flag imported goods treated with pesticides

    By Dean Beeby, CBC News Posted: Dec 19, 2017

    … “”There are currently no mechanisms in place to identify which articles are treated, which pesticide was used for treatment, or to monitor imports of treated articles.”

    The memo says the department will focus on pesticides on textiles that have the “highest potential exposure,” by talking to industry, importers and retailers about regulatory requirements. But, the document warns, “The pesticide industry and importers/retailers may react negatively to increased outreach.”

    Cooper said it’s clear Canada needs stronger labelling laws. “This is another area where we need better disclosure of what’s in and on products.”

    The internal memo appears to echo that concern. “Consumers are often unaware that the article has been treated with a pesticide, unless ‘antibacterial’ marketing claims are made (e.g., triclosan, silver) or specific trademarks are being used (e.g., Microban®).”

    The document cites examples of consumer products sometimes treated with antimicrobial pesticides: paints, textiles, footwear, lumber, plastic articles such as children’s toys, clothing, bedding, mattresses, baby furniture and flooring.

    “It’s lack of inspection and enforcement of imported products into Canada,” Annie Berube said in an interview. “But also, this seems to be a loophole in the regulations between what’s considered a pesticide, and who’s responsible when it’s a pesticide found in consumer products.”

    Health Canada’s lack of oversight of consumer products, including cosmetics, was also raised in the spring 2016 report from Canada’s commissioner of the environment.

    “Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Program could not fully assure Canadians that its post-market oversight activities were working to protect the public by addressing or preventing dangers to human health posed by chemicals of concern in household consumer products and cosmetics,” the report concluded.”


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