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CHP inspection turns up radioactive metal tissue holders

January 13, 2012 |  7:33 pm

A random inspection of a commercial truck in Northern California turned up radioactivity in a load of cargo, the California Highway Patrol said late Friday.

What was surprising was the source: metal bathroom tissue boxes.

After an investigation by the California Department of Public Health and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the retail chain Bed Bath & Beyond issued a recall notice for the boxes, Dual Ridge Metal Boutique Tissue Holders.

According to the company’s statement, the holders were made in India and have been sold in Bed Bath & Beyond stores since July.

According to the CHP, the boxes contained Cobalt-60, and were emitting very low levels of radioactivity -- not enough to pose a serious health threat, but enough to set off an alarm at a CHP inspection station.

Capt. Steve Dowling, an official in the CHP’s commercial vehicles section, said the truck containing the shipment was pulled over Jan. 5 for a random inspection, one of about 600,000 the agency carries out every year. He declined to say where the inspection occurred, but said the truck was en route to a retail store in the Bay Area.

In a statement on its website, Bed Bath & Beyond said the holders posed “no threat to anyone’s health” and could not contaminate tissues, but urged consumers to return the holders for a refund.


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-- Mitchell Landsberg