For those new to this website:
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-federal-award-winning independent advocate for childhood Lead poisoning prevention and consumer goods safety and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children (two of her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005). Since 2009, Tamara has been using XRF technology (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals — including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic). All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times to confirm the test results for each component tested. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
Published: June 14, 2018
When this Franciscan Desert Rose Earthenware China (made in the USA, c. 1941 and later) was tested with an XRF instrument, it came in at 122,200 +/- 5,000 ppm Lead. The plate is negative for Cd (cadmium), As (arsenic), and Hg (mercury) — however, that is one heck of a lot of Lead to find in the glaze of a dish intended for food use (over 12% Lead)!
For context: There is currently no federal standard for an allowable limit of XRF detectable Lead in consumer goods like dishware. The only federal standard for XRF-detectable Lead is in items manufactured for and intended to be used by children. The current allowable limits are 90 ppm Lead in the coating and 100 ppm in the substrate (in the case of children’s dishes, this would be the ceramic base of the dish vs. the glaze).
Franciscan China is generally (and consistently) VERY high Lead. I highly recommend not having any in your home and not ever using them for food purposes. If you want to keep one piece on hand to remind you of your grandmother (or of a time gone by!), please consider putting it in a shadow box with a glass cover, and please hide a note behind the dish indicating that the item is high Lead (in case anyone ever breaks the piece out of the shadow box) and should not be used for food consumption purposes.
Hands should also be thoroughly washed after handling these dishes as they most often also test positive with a reactive agent test (like a LeadCheck swab), which means there is likely available Lead on the dish’s surface that can wear off easily onto your hands.
MOST dishes will NOT test positive with a LeadCheck swab, but handmade and handprinted Franciscan brand dishes tend to consistently test positive with this method. (Read more here: Can I test my dishes with a LeadCheck swab?)
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
I love testing specific items that people want to know more about, but to do that, contributions are necessary to covering the cost of purchasing these items (as well as the related costs of testing these items).
If you want to support my independent consumer goods testing and Lead poisoning prevention advocacy work, please consider chipping in something (any amount helps) at this link.
IF you want me to test a specific item that will cost me less than $25 to purchase, please chip in at least $45 and send me a note about what you would like me to test. I will see if I can find it (there are a lot of antique shops on the blocks surrounding my home), and after I can test it (which sometimes takes me between 4 and 8 weeks), I will publish the test results here the website to share with everyone.
If the item turns out to be Lead-free, I can either offer it as a prize for a free giveaway on Facebook or send it to you (if you can help with shipping). If the item is leaded and is a popular and known brand, I would love to hold onto it for my “Museum of Lead” (and to use in an upcoming book!).