by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
The Bed, Bath & Beyond company has announced that it is pulling all Dual Ridge Metal Boutique tissue holders, model number DR9M, from its website, and from the 200 stores across the US and Canada that have been selling the product since July, after the products were discovered to be radioactive. Though they claim the holders are not a health threat, officials are still urging everyone who purchased the tainted holder to return them to Bed, Bath & Beyond for a refund.
According to reports, the tissue holders in question are made with manmade cobalt-60, a synthetic radioactive isotope of cobalt. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists cobalt-60 as a cancer-causing material because it emits "powerful gamma rays" of ionizing radiation that are known to cause cancer. The agency also indicates that cobalt-60 is a "significant threat" to health.
Though they believe that at least 200 stores in 20 states were carrying the product, federal regulators are still working with Bed, Bath & Beyond to figure out exactly where the radioactive tissue holders were distributed. Reports say the holders originally came from India, were shipped through the port of Newark, NJ, and were distributed by the Tatara Group of Piscataway, NJ.
In New York, health officials pulled the tainted products from store shelves in Westbury, Port Chester, Elmsford, and Huntington Station. In Chicago, at least two stores carrying the tainted products were identified, according to reports, while most others in the state of Illinois are believed to have not been carrying them.
Officials across the board, however, continue to claim that the radioactive tissue holders are not a public health threat, and they are using conflicting and unsubstantiated information to back those claims. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), for instance, claims that standing one foot away from a radioactive holder for 10 hours is the equivalent of receiving one chest x-ray, while a spokesman from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that spending 30 minutes in front of a radioactive box every day for a year is the equivalent of "a couple of chest x-rays."
Because of its radioactive properties, cobalt-60 does not belong in any consumer products in the first place, and customers must always perform due diligence in determining the contents of products before they purchase them. And regardless of whether or not the experts are willing to admit it, any exposure to ionizing radiation is a health hazard and should be avoided at all costs.