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August 13, 2013 > Letter to the Editor: Paper vs. Plastic encore

Letter to the Editor: Paper vs. Plastic encore

Thank you, Dharti Krunal Shah, for your insightful letter to the editor in the August 6, 2013, Tri-City Voice regarding the pros and cons of plastic and paper bags. If only a thoughtful, informed person such as yourself sat on the appointed board which mandated that reusable bag law - or was an elected trustee of the citizens instead of those politicians who chose NOT to act, thereby automatically "opting-in" to that reusable bag law - authenticating it with the stamp of approval from an elected body as a law made in the best interests of the citizens they represent.

Reusable bags have already been proven to be a threat to public health. As far back as October 2010, William Keene, senior epidemiologist with Oregon Public Health, and Kimberly Repp, epidemiologist for Washington County, had already traced an outbreak of norovirus to a reusable bag at a soccer tourney in Oregon. Symptoms of the norovirus, often called "stomach flu," include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Excerpts from that report said, in effect:

- Oregon scientists determined the norovirus had been picked up from a reusable grocery bag.
- Tests turned up the virus on the sides of the bag below the polypropylene handle.
- The results of the research were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
- Norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths a year in the United States. It caused 139 of 213 outbreaks of gastroenteritis in Oregon in 2010.
- "What this report does is it helps raise awareness of the complex and indirect way that norovirus can spread," said Aron Hall, an epidemiologist with the Division of Viral Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet, reusable bags are private property and come under search and seizure laws. No agency in Alameda County accepts the duty to monitor the sanitation of reusable bags. Stomach flu usually goes unreported since we, the citizens, suffer its vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps without paying for medical assistance.

I do not litter. Yet, I am being FINED for NOT littering! The 10 cents per bag goes to the merchants collecting this money and can be used by law for whatever purpose those merchants choose without limitation. To my knowledge, this law does not preclude the merchants from claiming an income tax deduction for the cost-of-doing business for their cost for these reusable bags nor from claiming a loss on their income taxes for such bags not bought by their customers. Why do our merchants put up with this dictation of customer service policy? Why do union trustees put up with this health hazard to the employees they represent?

Contrary to the Boston Tea Party where the Pilgrims could live without tea, we citizens cannot live without food.

What "service" is provided to citizens by the "bring-your-own-bag for groceries" law? I personally think our trustees - the representatives we elected to act in our best interests - have created a health hazard as well as a downright nuisance to grocery shopping.

Faye McKay

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