Scientists prove health and safety of glass
Glass packaging protects consumer health and safety – selection of scientific researchon leaching and migration for glass

There are many peer reviewed studies confirming glass’s durability and hardiness to protect contents from contamination.

Below is a selection and summary of some of the most pertinent health, safety and environmental studies on glass.

I. The durability of glass – a review

Scientific studies of the durability of glass (the attack on glass by water and aqueous solutions) have been in progress for more than 200 years and cover research by French chemist Levoisier to Faraday to today’s scientists. The attempts to understand the durability of glass are reviewed from the earliest studies in 1666. This study provides an overview of all the different test methods that have been used on glass and collectively attests to the durability, non corrosiveness and hardiness of glass as one of the best materials to protect and store products.

R.G Newton

Published in Glass Technology Vol 26 N.1 February 1985

II. Impact of glass packaging on the environment: Measuring extent of heavy metal migration and leaching from household waste incineration or landfill in the framework of Directive 94/62/UE

Extensive research carried out by the French Chambre Syndicale des Verreries Mecaniques de France tested the extent and level of migration and leaching of any components in glass to the materials inside and how glass behaves in incineration. The results confirm that glass packaging does not present a danger to human health or the environment at the end of the life cycle if ends up as household waste which either goes to landfill or is incinerated.

Mr Delhopital BSN Emballage and Mr Mosse St Gobain Emballage.

Chambre Syndicale des Verreries Mécaniques de France

December 1995

III. The assessment of total and elemental migration from UK glass containers

Results for total migration and for the migration of individual elements are presented and compared with typical values obtained from analyses of public authority water supplies. All types of container tested gave migration values well below the limit imposed by the EU Directive on materials in contact with food; the study concludes that glass is among the most inert of common substance materials and the glass matrix is among the safest and highest quality materials for packaging food, drinks and medical products.

PV Tingle, British glass manufacturers’ Confederation, Sheffield, United Kingdom

Published in Glass Technology Vol. 31 No 3 June 1990

IV. Heavy metal ions in glass and related legislation

The study examines the compositional limits for heavy metals set out in the EU Directive on packaging and packaging waste. An overview of the typical contamination occurring for glass bottles available on the market is given, together with the corresponding migration levels. The study found that for Soda Lime silicate glass, lead and cadmium are present only in trace amounts as adventitious impurities and below the limit of detection. The study concludes that there is no danger of significant leaching from glass because it is an inert material. The study also points out that impurities in recycling are the main source of contaminants and warns about endangering the wider use of recycling.

E. Guadagnino and R. Dall’Igna

Stazione Sperimentale del Vetro, Italy

Published in Glass Technololgy Vol 37 No 3 June 1996

V. Baseline Migration Results for Glass

Glass has, under accelerated migration testing conditions, been found to be a material of high chemical inertness. However certain types of decorated glassware under acidic conditions were shown to release elements that may be of interest, if such decoration was used in contact with food. The work carried out has shown that generally glass is an inert food contact material with limited potential for migration of elements of toxic significance in the compositions commonly used. The most durable compositions were found to be borosilicate (“pyrex” type) glass and glass ceramics which are widely used in cookware/oven to table ware. Where elemental release did occur it was generally at ppm or sub ppm level and limited to the major glass making elements when tested with a range of solutions under a variety of test conditions.

Glass technology services ltd. September 2002

VI. Element migration from glass compositions containing no added lead

The results show that it is possible to produce durable glass containing no added lead. The overall quality of the glasses was good and the concentrations of the various elements migrating (leaching) into the various test solutions used was very small and it is clear that they would not present a hazard to consumers in the event that they were to use glasses of any of these compositions for consumption of either alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, according to the report.

Michael J. Hynes, Sean Forde, Bo Jonson, Department of Chemistry, National University of Ireland, and School of Biosciences and Process Technology, Sweden

Published: M.J. Hynes et al. / The Science of the Total Environment 319 (2004) 39–52

VII. Lead in Bottled Waters: Contamination from Glass and Comparison with Pristine Groundwater

Using clean lab methods and protocols developed for measuring lead (Pb) in polar snow and ice, researchers found that the greatest Pb concentration found in water from a glassbottle (417 ng/L) is well below the maximum allowable concentration for Pb in drinking water set by the EU, Health Canada, and the WHO (10 μg/L).

William Shotyk * and Michael Krachler - Institute of Environmental Geochemistry, University of Heidelberg, INF 236, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Published: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2007, 41, 3508-3513

VIII. Study of migration of metals from glass into food stimulants

Samples of glass packaging were tested to determine migration of heavy metals – lead, cadmium, total chromium and mercury. All results were negative i.e. below the threshold.

Católica – Escola Superior de Biotechnología, June 2008

IX. Analysis of the migration and leaching of heavy metals from glass

This study examines the components of glass and the possible impact of heavy metals if present in the glass could have on the environment and when coming into contact with materials. The study is a testament to the chemical stability of glass containers whether it is migration to food or leaching into the environment via landfills or incineration.

José Ma Fernandez Navarro, Instituto de Cerámica y Vidrio, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Spain – January 1997


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