[I spoke with Tamara Rubin of Lead Safe Mama today and learned a lot about where lead is found. The call was sparked by my post on FB Is Your Crock-Pot Leaching Lead? In her non-argumentative way, she taught us all on that thread a few things. Anyway, you know I love to learn, and so I found out about my mom’s old dishes.]
Everybody’s grandmother seems to have had this butterfly pattern
These butterfly pattern vintage “Corelle by Corning” bowls (Made in New York) tested positive for Lead at 23,300 ppm when tested with an XRF instrument (this is the reading of a test done directly on the decorative pattern elements on the outside of the bowl).
The plain white parts of the butterfly pattern bowls (the base material/substrate) is generally Lead-free (and Cadmium-free too!) You can see the full XRF test results of a plain white Corelle bowl if you Click HERE.
Every version of this “Butterfly” pattern that I have tested is either very high Lead OR very high Cadmium (which is also toxic/carcinogenic.)
- To learn more about the concern for Cadmium toxicity, Click HERE.
- To learn more about XRF testing, Click HERE. Tamara has tested pottery (with a Niton XRF instrument that she is trained and certified in using) that was as high as 400,000 ppm lead! This is pottery that was ostensibly sold as a dish to eat off of.
- To learn more about the concern for lead contamination in dishware, Click HERE. Some “experts” will tell you that, “heavily decorated pottery has more lead”, however – as recently as earlier this week – I have found heavily decorated modern pottery from Mexico with 100 ppm lead, and plain white pottery from England with 80,000 ppm lead – which just reinforces that there is no way to determine content by such apparent empirical observations—you just can’t make assumptions.
For context: the amount of Lead that is considered toxic in an item intended for children (when tested with an XRF instrument) is anything 90 ppm or higher in the paint or coating. [Or anything 100 ppm or higher in the substrate/base material.]
The CDC says NO level of lead is safe for kids. The potent neurotoxin is especially dangerous for young children, where it can permanently damage their attention and intelligence. It can also harm adults, causing high blood pressure, kidney damage, and, possibly, cancer. (Source)
Are there any regulations for lead in eating vessels?
There is no regulation limiting the total Lead content in dishware, as detectable with an XRF instrument. They do regulate the amount of lead leeching out, not the content, as the leeching is what causes health problems. Modern dishware regulations focus on leach testing on the new dishes (not the used ones).
Caveat (Buyer beware): Don’t use any that are cracked or have damaged glaze – that is what causes leaching. Also frequent washings in the dishwasher eventually ruin the glaze and can cause problems from heated drying.
Antiques and vintage items were also generally not regulated for the presence of toxicants (if regulated at all) to any levels that could be considered protective of consumers’ health using modern scientific standards.
A goal for my advocacy is that all dishware be required to test negative for Lead by any and all testing methodologies, including XRF testing.
If a toy is considered toxic for use by a child using a specific testing methodology (for example, toys are toxic for Lead with XRF readings in the following range: “90 ppm and above”), why is it that this same testing methodology and standard is not used across the board for all consumer goods – especially dishware, which is used by humans of all ages (including children of all ages) and used across generations?
Most vintage Corelle pieces with printed decorative patterns are high in Lead. Click HERE to see some more examples of these pieces and their specific Lead readings (as detected with an XRF instrument.)
As a mother of lead-poisoned children, I personally would never use the butterfly pattern dishware or this type of decorated dish in my home. [Keep some paper plates on hand in case I come visit!]
Related: What should I do if my dishes test positive for lead? Click HERE.
Do you want to find a modern, Lead-free Corelle pattern that is suitable and safe for you to hand down to YOUR grandkids?
The safest dishes are new, all white Corelle. Corelle no longer has lead, guaranteed, and being glass instead of ceramic, it doesn’t have cadmium.
As always thank you for reading and for sharing my posts. Please let me know if you have any questions!
Learn more about me and my work HERE.
Tamara Rubin. Two of her four boys were lead-poisoned when a contractor used an unsafe way to remove lead paint on the outside of their house.
“When you find a child that already has an elevated blood lead, you’re already behind the eight ball.” ~Jennifer Lowry, MD, Children’s Mercy Hospital