Vintage Olive Green Pyrex Mixing Bowl.
When tested with an XRF instrument the exterior paint on the mixing bowl pictured here was positive for the following elemental heavy metals at the following levels:
- Lead (Pb): 36,599 ppm
- Arsenic (As): 12,910 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 615 ppm
For Context: The current toxicity level for lead in newly manufactured items intended for use children is 90 ppm lead in the paint or coating (or 100 ppm or higher in the substrate.)
Antiques and vintage dishware are not regulated for total lead content (as detectable with an XRF.) They were also not regulated for total lead content (detectible in this manner) at the time of manufacture.
As you can see from the photo of this bowl, the exterior paint color is mottled and uneven which means much of the original paint has worn off (likely through normal use of the item as intended.) Most of the vintage Pyrex pieces I have tested with the paint fully intact are positive for much higher levels of lead than this piece was positive for. Which brings up the question… “Where did all the lead go?”
Over time the colored coating of this bowl has likely worn off into the other bowls it was nested in, or into the dishwasher, kitchen sink or other food preparation areas where the bowl was used. It is for this reason I don’t recommend using any brightly colored/ coated/ glazed vintage Pyrex.
Note: The reddish/pinkish mark on the bowl is where it also instantly tested positive when using a LeadCheck swab (which is a reactive agent test that you can use at home to test for lead.)
While there is no scientific study explaining this phenomenon or the potential impact of a source of lead exposure like this one (because there is no company that could possibly benefit from conducting such a study), in my opinion it is always better to be safe than sorry, and to instead use one of the many lead-free mixing bowl choices out there (most of which are fairly inexpensive to buy new today.)
For some unleaded mixing bowl options, click here!
Please share and browse the index of this site to see items I have personally tested that have tested both positive and negative for lead. [Here’s the link to the Index.]
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As always, please let me know if you have any questions.