Are Toxic Chemicals Joining Your Summer Picnic?

Photo of vintage basket courtesy of Wickerfurniture

Photo of vintage basket courtesy of Wickerfurniture

By Case Adams, Naturopath

Researchers recently tested 58 common summer picnic items, which included picnic baskets, coolers, folding chairs, tablecloths and other items, for toxic chemicals. Can you guess what they found?

Yes, they found toxic, disease-causing chemicals in practically every item. A full 96% of the products tested contained – at detectible levels of 40 parts per million or greater – at least one toxin that has been associated with asthma, liver toxicity, cancer, learning disabilities, endocrine disorders and/or birth defects.

These toxic substances included lead, brominated flame retardants, PVC, cadmium, arsenic, organotins, phthalates and many others.

The picnic items tested were purchased from eight of the top ten chain retailers in the U.S. They were:

Home Depot

Some of the offenders come in the form of phthalates. These chemicals are blended into the manufacturing process to soften them – such as hoses, vinyl, fabrics and others. A vinyl folding chair, for example, contained 17% phthalates (16% DEHP and 1% DINP) by weight.

The research also found that 40% of the products contained PVC or chlorinated flame-retardants that had chlorine levels over 3500 parts per million.

They also found that many of the goods contained toxic heavy metals. These included 31% containing antimony and 22% containing tin over 100 parts per million. One table cloth contained .25 lbs of lead sewn into each corner.

Certainly there are natural alternatives to these items. These include cotton tablecloths, wicker baskets, stainless steel containers, bamboo placemats and others.


The Ecology Center. 2013 Picnic Products Screening. Acc. Aug. 16 2013.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.