Sunday, July 1, 2012

Is your dog's stainless steel bowl radioactive?

Just when you thought your dog's stainless steel dog bowl was safe, come reports from Chicago that stainless steel pet bowls with low levels of radioactive material might have been shipped to 11 Petco stores throughout Illinois.

Two contaminated bowls were discovered on Friday by state inspectors from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency at a Petco store at 2000 N. Clybourn Ave., in Chicago, and it is believe that five possibly contaminated bowls might have been sold from the Clybourn store between June 14 and 15, 2012.

“These bowls do not pose an immediate health risk, but we always want to prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken in a statement.

The bowls have since been pulled from shelves, and state and federal officials are working with Petco officials to isolate any contaminated bowls, the IEMA said.

Among the Petco stores that might have received contaminated bowls are:
  • 2000 North Clybourn, Chicago
  • 440 North Orleans Street, Chicago
  • 629 East Dundee Road, Palatine
  • 2204 South Harlem, North Riverside
  • 4411 16th Street, Moline
  • 1310-1312 East Main Street, Carbondale
  • 2046 North State Route 50, Bourbonnais
  • 199 South Route 83, Elmhurst
  • 9645 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie
  • 17930 Halstead Street, Homewood
  • 11720 South Marshfield, Chicago

It wasn't all that long ago, that, an organization dedicated to bringing awareness to the potential dangers lurking in products for pets, children and adults, indicated in their pet product report that the DuraPet Stainless Steel pet bowl contained high levels of lead.

You may not be aware but radioactive contaminated products have been found in various sources over the years, including the recent recall of contaminated tissue boxes from Bed Bath & Beyond, and a radioactive cheese grader found in Michigan

How does this happen?

The big question is how did radioactive material get in stainless steel pet bowls? We've been doing a lot of research over the past day or so and found that this is not that uncommon in the World marketplace and it's not a problem with just imports, but also a problem within the United States market, as well.

Although there is no definitive information about how these particular pet bowls became radioactive (however, see our update below), there is information that we've garnered from a variety of sources that show just how this may be happening, and could provide potential clues.

According to an article in the LA Times at the end of last year, 'improper disposal of industrial equipment and medical scanners containing radioactive materials is allowing nuclear waste to trickle into scrap smelters, contaminating consumer goods, threatening the $140-billion trade in recycled metal and spurring the United Nations to call for increased screening."

Medical scanners, mining equipment and other related items contain radioactive metals such as cobalt-60 (the very source of the radioactivity found in the Petco stainless steel pet bowls) are collected and sold to recyclers.

The article goes on to say, 'last year, U.S. Customs rejected 64 shipments of radioactive goods at the nation's ports, including purses, cutlery, sinks and hand tools, according to data released by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. India was the largest source, followed by China."

The EPA indicates that the United States imports millions of tons of scrap metal, each year from various countries for production uses.

In the United States the EPA also says, "many scrap metal yards and metal processing facilities monitor scrap shipments for radioactive contamination. However, monitoring does not guarantee detection of sources. They may be shielded by the scrap metal or by their own casings."

So what's a dog to do?

Chronic exposure to low doses of radiation can lead to cataracts, cancer and birth defects in humans, according to the EPA. Being smaller species, you can just imagine the potential impact on our dogs.

The reality is with International trade at it's highest to date, scrap metal is imported frequently into the United States from many parts of the World and then utilized to manufacturer products in the United States. In addition, monitoring of radioactive scrap in the US is done by many scrap metal yards and metal processing facilities that acquire scrap from all over the United States, but as stated above, sometimes hidden items cannot be screened. In addition the monitoring is done by the company and not by a regulation agency.

Purchasing USA Made stainless steel bowls may not be the final and best answer, but it may be less risky than purchasing stainless steel pet bowls from India and China.

Here are a couple of things you may be able to do to avoid radiation in your dog's stainless steel bowl:
  • Test for radioactivity yourself with handheld radiation testers, yes, these are handheld Geiger counters. 
  • Contact pet product companies that carry stainless steel bowls and ask if they have been tested for radiation and for lead (because some stainless steel pet bowls have also found to have high levels of lead).
  • Some State Department of Health agencies have listed resources for home radiation testing, that you may be able to look into.
On a global level, products manufactured and sold from contaminated scrap metal is not a new problem, but one that is still being investigated and regulated, so that meaningful precautions and testing at the highest levels may be achieved. 

We live life in the face of danger, every single day. The world is a dangerous place. But don't let that discourage you. Be informed, be educated and help minimize as many risks in your and your dog's life. We at Raise A Green Dog are here to share the information you need to make the best decisions possible to help your dog be healthier, happier and greener.

Update: Read our recent post, 'Is Your Dog Bowl Safe' to learn about other types of dog bowls on the market, along with outlines we've discovered about their safety, including stainless steel, ceramic, plastic, stoneware, silicone, sugar cane, corn and bamboo.


UPDATE 8-9-2012: Just recently, Petco has posted a 'Stainless Steel Bowl Notice' on their website. And it seems we were correct in our prediction of how the bowls became contaminated.

From their update they have shared, "Petco has determined that one of its foreign suppliers used stainless steel mistakenly containing small quantities of Cobalt-60 when fabricating certain orders of certain SKUs/models of stainless steel pet food bowls. Cobalt-60 is a radioactive material commonly used in industrial gauging equipment and other uses. We don’t know for certain how it got into our product, but we believe it came from scrap metal that had some Cobalt-60 accidentally mixed in. The affected products were found to emit low levels of radiation."

They also go on to state, "to our knowledge, the affected products were limited to two cargo containers that entered the United States in late May and early June."

The effected bowls are identified as follows:

SKU 1047493
9.25” diameter; 3.75 cup capacity

SKU 1386956
9” diameter; 3.5 cup capacity

SKU 1047477
9” diameter; 7 cup capacity

SKU numbers can be found on labels inside and on the bottom of the bowls. Additional information from Petco states, "Customers who purchased these products between the dates of May 31 and June 20, 2012, should bring it to their local Petco store for a full refund. If you have any questions, please call Petco Customer Service at 877-738-6742."


  1. I think none of us has noticed the problem of radioactive of the steel dog bowl before. Luckily I used a clay dog bowl.

    1. Clay and porcelain and their glazes have naturally occurring sources of radioactivity up to and even higher than the levels mentioned in this article.

  2. Sorry Lawrence, anom is correct! Many of the raw ingredients used to make clay/ceramic goods, dyes & glazes contain naturally occurring radioactive elements & lead!

    Even sticking with strictly human food grade products provides no meaningful assurances that the product will not contain potentially dangerous heavy metals & radioactivity!

    It's important to remember that any damage to the finish/surface of products that are in contact with the body, food, water, meds, etc. is potentially dangerous. You should inspect the items in question regularly & dispose of if problems are found.

    You can also get home testing kits for lead, radioactivity, & other hazards, just google/bing it.

    Finally, do not use or buy such products that stem from dollar stores, foreign manufacturers, etc. that refuse to test/monitor & publish ALL QA data!



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