Does Vintage Fiestaware Have Lead?
Does New Fiestaware Have Lead?
Answers: Definitely yes & sometimes yes!
Below is a vintage teal colored Fiestaware custard cup. When tested with an XRF instrument it was positive for lead (Pb) at 73,500 ppm (seventy three thousand five hundred parts per million.) The only relevant modern standard that you can compare this to (for context) is the allowable amount of lead in products made for use by children.
In modern children’s products they are considered unsafe for use by children if the lead in the glaze or coating exceeds 90 ppm (ninety parts per million), or if the lead in the substrate of the item (which would be the base clay in an item like this) exceeds 100 ppm (one hundred parts per million).
73,500 far exceeds 90 ppm, however vintage dishware is not regulated for total lead content as detectable with an XRF instrument.
While the vintage Fiesta pieces are consistently very high lead, newer #Fiestaware items (including the ones that are marked “lead free” on the bottom) have either no lead (specifically: they test negative for lead when tested with an XRF instrument) or test positive for just trace lead (usually below 100 ppm) when tested with an XRF instrument. The new pieces have also tested positive for traces of cadmium (Cd) and arsenic (As). These levels of toxicants in the pieces vary depending on the color of the piece.
While new Fiesta pieces are relatively safe as a choice for functional pottery/dishware, it is my recommendation that the vintage Fiesta pieces never be used as functional dishware.
Please note: I have only confirmed lead-free dishware in my home and would not choose to use new Fiesta pieces in my home personally, but if you had them in your home and served me a meal on them I would be comfortable eating off of them.
Thank you for reading. As always, please let me know if you have any questions!