Health Department Warns: Some Ceramic Dishes Contain Lead that is Thousands of Times Greater than Safe Levels
The New York City Health Department, which just investigated 15 cases of lead poisoning in children and adults, traced their dangerously high blood lead levels back to ceramic dishes and cups that contained hazardously high levels of lead that was then transferred to food and drinks.
According to the Health Department, New Yorkers should avoid using the following types of ceramicware, which can contain lead levels that are thousands of times greater than allowable limits, to prepare, store, or serve food or drinks:
• Ceramic ware that is labeled for use only as decorative items or contains warning labels, such as – “Not for Food Use: May Poison Food”
• Handmade ceramic ware with crude appearances and irregular shapes.
• Antique ceramicware
• Damaged or worn ceramicware.
• Ceramicware that was purchased from flea markets, street vendors, and shops that do not provide information about how and where products are made.
New Yorkers may unknowingly own traditional ceramicware that comes from Mexico, Ecuador, Turkey, Morocco, and Uzbekistan after having bought it in those countries.
In addition, some New York City stores may sell hazardous ceramicware, although the city’s Health Department has been sending out agents routinely to visit stores to determine whether hazardous consumer products are being sold.
Ceramicware is not “food-safe” when lead has been added to decorative paint and glazing that is used as a sealant so that the clay can hold food and liquids, to which the lead is transferred as it is consumed.
No amount of washing, boiling, or other process can remove lead from the ceramicware.
“Do not use decorative ceramics or those not intended for food use when preparing or serving meals,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “If you’re not sure whether your ceramics are food-safe, just err on the side of caution and don’t use it.
“New Yorkers who use these products should stop using them and speak with their doctor to ask for blood lead tests as soon as possible
Although patients with elevated blood lead levels may not look or feel sick, lead exposure can cause serious health problems.
For instance, in children, lead exposure can cause learning and behavior problems, and in adults, lead exposure can increase blood pressure and affect the brain, kidneys and reproductive organs.
Women who are expecting should be particularly cautious not to use ceramicware that does not contain lead because exposure to lead during pregnancy can increase the risks of miscarriage and, G-d forbid, harm unborn babies.
In addition, the Department of Health recommended that women who are expecting ask to be assessed for potential lead poisoning at their first prenatal visits.