An assessment of lead leachability from lead-glazed ceramic cooking vessels
Since the early 1990s, numerous studies in Mexico have demonstrated an association between the use of lead-glazed ceramic cooking ware (LGC) and elevated blood lead levels. We sought to determine whether ceramic ware collected from the Hispanic community in Oklahoma City contained lead and to quantify the amount of lead that leached into foods cooked in those vessels. Lab results were combined with consumer intake levels for foods and compared with the provisional tolerable total intake level (PTTIL) for lead. The authors found that 52 percent of the vessels they tested exceeded the FDA action level for ceramic ware. Consumption of a low-pH food (tomatoes) cooked in 23 of 25 vessels would result in a dose of lead exceeding the PTTIL compared with 3 of 25 vessels and 5 of 25 vessels for a higher-pH foods (hominy and beans, respectively). The results of the study indicate that LGC is still used in the local community and represents a significant public health concern.