Post originally written: February 26, 2017
Updated: March 3, 2020
Vintage Pyrex Mixing Bowl
When tested with an XRF instrument the small plain white (undecorated, unpainted) vintage Pyrex brand milk-glass bowl had the following reading: 893 ppm Lead (Pb).
The actual brand of this bowl was not noted (I did not take a photo of the bottom of the bowl) at the time of testing (c. 2013/2014, on my last trip to Iowa) but it looks like a Pyrex piece given the lip/edge. This belonged to my friend Leslie, another mother of Lead poisoned children
How much Lead is too much Lead?
Vintage dishes and kitchenware are not regulated for total Lead content as detectable with an XRF. Depending on the age of the item many vintage items were also not regulated (for the presence of toxicants) at the time of manufacture. For context however: the amount of Lead that is considered unsafe in a newly manufactured item (made today) intended for use by children is 90 ppm Lead or higher in paint or coating or 100 ppm Lead or higher in the substrate. Since this is an unpainted / undecorated item – IF it were made today and IF it was an item intended for use by children, the 100 ppm limit would apply.
An additional consideration for plain white (undecorated / unpainted) vintage milk glass:
I am not as concerned about the potential for Lead exposure to the user with unpainted, undecorated (relatively low level Lead) plain white vintage milk glass items. An argument could be made that given the intended use it is unlikely for Lead to leach from these items and cause harm. That said, I don’t believe anyone (or any agency) to date has done any leach testing studies on vintage milk glass to determine the actual food-use-safety of these items. In the absence of a determination of safety (and in the confirmed presence of a toxicant as potent and neurotoxic as Lead) I always err on the side of caution. My recommendation is to not use vintage milk glass items for food any use purposes. However, having something like a vase made of vintage milk glass (or some other similar object d’art) is not of significant concern.
Some additional reading that may be of interest:
- To see more Pyrex items I have tested, click here.
- To see more milk glass items I have tested, click here.
- To see more mixing bowls I have tested, click here.
- To read more about the testing methodology I use for the results reported on this blog, click here.
- For my post with guidelines for choosing a safer mixing bowl, click here.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
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