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Healthcare Today

Many Fine China Dishes Contain Dangerous Amounts of Lead

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Summary & Participants

Many people collect and display fine china, without realizing eating off them can be hazardous. With the lead content in vintage china posing health risks to adults and children alike, the use of these pieces as tableware should be limited.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2009

Webcast Transcript

DR. NANCY SNYDERMAN: Hello, I’m Dr. Nancy Snyderman with this week’s Healthful Hint.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but a lot of people love scouring yard sales and out of the way shops for fine vintage china. Many are content to merely display their prize finds. But if you’re thinking about setting your dinner table with your antique collection, you may be risking your health as well as your investment.

In a recent study, a Missouri chemist found half of all old dishes bought at flea markets and antique stores contain more lead than the government considers safe. And good taste is no protection – among the worst offenders – fine old china made by France’s Haviland Limoges and Britain’s Roslyn China.

The problem is the lead in the paints and glazes used to decorate vintage china can leach out into food. While too much lead certainly isn’t good for anyone, it’s a particular risk for children. So if you insist on having your antique plates and eating off them too, limit their use to adults, and then only for special occasions.

With Healthful Hints, I’m Dr. Nancy Snyderman