A Mumbai based NGO named Watchdog Foundation has approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in New Delhi seeking a ban on plastic bottles as packaging. Their research has found out it is not merely packaged food that poses a health risk to consumers; the container itself can be lethal. The NGO had carried out tests on bottles of soft drink, water and cough syrup and found heavy metals present far beyond permissible limits. Excess amounts of metal cause kidney damage, respiratory problems, cancer, stroke and heart trouble as well as spontaneous abortions.
The contaminated bottles belong to leading brands having a wide consumer base. As per the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the permissible limit for antimony is 0.005 ppm, chromium 0.05 ppm, cadmium 0.01 ppm, lead 0.01 ppm and DHEP or pthalates is 0.006 ppm. However, the bottles that were tested showed 2.1-3.3 ppm for antimony, while chromium levels spanned 5.6-9.1 ppm. One sample contained 0.3 ppm cadmium while another had 0.4 ppm of lead. DEHP levels of 0.003-0.007 were present in some bottles.
The Watchdog Foundation has been pursuing the authorities for action in this matter for long. They had written to the Food & Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in March 2015 but a got a reply only after the Maggi controversy, to say that they would inquire into the matter.
The NGO says packaging liquids in plastic PET bottles makes them prone to leaching due to the high temperature in the atmosphere which causes contamination of the contents.