Facts About Lead in Ceramicware

May 08 00:00 2001 Print This Article

Are your ceramicware favorites, the cups and plates you use everyday, a potential lead hazard for you and your children? Probably not, because the really dangerous pieces of china are fairly rare. However, with a few helpful hints you can minimize the danger to you and your family.

The following hints can help you identify a lead-risk from ceramicware. Potential risk factors include:

  1. "Old" china handed down from a previous generation. These heirlooms were made before lead was recognized as a hazard.

  2. "Home-made" or "handcrafted" china, either from the U.S. or abroad, unless you are sure that the maker used a lead-free glaze or high-temperature, commercial firing practice.

  3. Highly decorated, multicolored "inside" surfaces (the part that touches the food or drink).

  4. Decorations on top of the glaze instead of beneath it.

  5. Corroded glaze, or a dusty or chalky grey residue on the glaze after the piece has been washed. THIS TYPE OF CHINA COULD BE QUITE DANGEROUS. STOP USING AT ONCE.

It is relatively simple to minimize your risk to exposure to lead from ceramicware that you are not sure about. Follow these guidelines:

  1. If you are not sure about the ceramicware, test it with a lead test kit. Several are available commercially (usually at hardware stores) and range from $10-$30.

  2. Don't store food or drink in questionable china pitchers, bowls, etc.

  3. Don't serve highly acidic food or drink in questionable china, especially to children.

  4. Don't use a questionable piece of china in your everyday routine.

  5. Don't heat or microwave in questionable china.

For more information about lead testing kits, contact the Rapid Response Center. For general information about lead risks and food, contact Office of Consumer Affairs, FDA, Mail Stop HFE-88, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; or call 1-800-LEAD-FYI

Source: Environmental Defense Fund, National Safety Council

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