Myth: Ceramic Dishes Release Traces of Lead
Reality: “Ceramics aren’t dangerous if they’ve been glazed appropriately to seal in lead,” says Winter. Since 1989 the FDA has placed strict limits on the amount of lead a ceramic product is allowed to leach through daily use. (Prolonged exposure to lead can impair brain development in children and cause many health problems in adults.) These rules are followed by large American manufacturers. But not all countries have such rigorous standards, and some small U.S. potteries may not properly formulate their glazes, resulting in an unhealthy amount of lead residue. Acidic beverages, like orange juice, can draw the metal from improperly fired pieces. To confirm that your ceramics are safe, check with the manufacturer or use a lead-testing kit (available at hardware stores).
Bottom line: Confirm that your dinnerware has been properly sealed. If you’re in doubt about your Moroccan urn, use it for decoration, not for serving drinks.