In my role as Health Officer of San Francisco I received a flurry of concerned calls about a research study that claimed that the 2007 San Francisco ban on plastic bag resulted in an immediate, very large increase in foodborne illnesses and deaths. From their conclusions:
"We examine deaths and emergency room admissions related tothese bacteria in the wake of the San Francisco ban. We find that both deaths and ER visitsspiked as soon as the ban went into effect. Relative to other counties, deaths in San Franciscoincrease by almost 50 percent, and ER visits increase by a comparable amount."
Here is the introduction to a memo I composed in response to this study:
"This memo is to respond to a recent unpublished research paper concluding that the San Franciscoban on plastic bags has led to an increase in bacterial foodborne illnesses and deaths. This paper isfrom Jonathan Klick and Joshua D. Wright from the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Law& Economics. Based on our review of this paper, and our disease surveillance and death registrydata, the Klick & Wrights conclusion that San Franciscos policy of banning of plastic bags hascaused a significant increase in gastrointestinal bacterial infections and a "46 percent increase inthe deaths from foodborne illnesses" is not warranted."
My full memo is here:
The Klick study I read is here:
Reading their article and responding to public concerns reminded me of several things: