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. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
Originally published: September 13, 2018
Updated: March 20, 2020
Question: Do you recommend Corning Visionware?
Answer: No. Ok, while I could leave it at that, I will elaborate.
First, I have to address the fact that several people have confused me with some bloggers who DO recommend Corning Visionware, and I specifically have not ever recommended this product personally because I have consistently found widely varying results across the population of many similar and even seemingly identical Visionware pieces I have tested using a state-of-the-art XRF instrument!
So, unfortunately, I am simply not able to say anything along the lines of “all Visionware pieces I have tested are Lead-free,” or even, “avoid this particular model or date range” — which is, after all, the kind of clear determination that my followers are generally looking for!
My lack of recommendation is largely based on the fact that I have not found any way to draw a distinct conclusion for parameters that would dictate even whether or which of the pieces might be likely to be Lead-free.
Some additional reading that may be of interest:
- To learn more about XRF testing, click here.
- To see more amber glass items we have tested, click here.
- To see more Corning Visionware pieces we have tested, click here.
Questions I have tried to answer:
- Are certain pieces from certain countries of origin Lead-free?
- Are certain pieces from certain years of manufacturing Lead-free?
This lack of certainty is in large part aggravated by the fact that it is VERY difficult for the layperson (vs. the antique and vintage Visionware collector!) to tell the difference between old pieces and new — because the year of production does not appear to be marked on any of these pieces, at least not on any I have tested.
So… as just one random, NON-“representative” example, today I am sharing with you the small dish shown. This was purchased at a Portland, Oregon Goodwill store in the summer of 2018 for $3. I think it is a soup pot (like for making French onion soup? Or similar?)
The markings on the back of this piece (on the handle) are:
- Corning U.S.A.
- 150-B 0.4L
- 0 9
Here are the XRF readings for the piece pictured here:
- Lead (Pb): Non-Detect*
- Cadmium (Cd): Non-Detect
- Arsenic (As): Non-Detect
- Mercury (Hg): Non-Detect
- Barium (Ba): 3,996 +/- 234 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 63 +/- 31 ppm
- Bromine (Br): 204 +/- 16 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 61 +/- 27 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 16,400 +/- 600 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 187 +/- 64 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 637 +/- 205 ppm
- Vanadium (V): 1,164 +/- 130 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 14,300 +/- 700 ppm
- Zirconium (Zr): 14,900 +/- 600 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 316 +/- 130 ppm
*Non-Detect = “negative,” within the testing limitations of an XRF instrument.
Note: Just because an element is listed (because it is an element present in a particular manufactured amber glass item) does not mean it either is — or might in the future be — leaching.
My own work testing consumer items for toxicants (such as Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, and Arsenic) using an XRF instrument and publishing my findings is not rooted-in nor confined to just concerns for leaching, nor is it equivalent to leach-testing. Testing with an XRF instrument gives a highly accurate breakdown of the actual total content of the elemental metals in a consumer good — without any evaluation of whether or not these elements might constitute any toxicity concerns directly to the end user.
Obviously — and depending on amounts — in some kinds of coatings and/or substrates, the presence of one or more of these toxicants does in fact constitute a serious and immediate hazard. In the case of many items though, the risk of any actual exposure may be very small — or virtually nil — depending on numerous factors. Still, the risks of exposure to the consumer is only one layer of my concern about unnecessarily bringing products that have been manufactured with these neurotoxic heavy metals into my home.
The “nastiest” metals — again, Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Antimony, and Arsenic — in consumer goods are sometimes bio-available. In many cases, they have been “determined” (troublingly, often by the industry producing the item*) to not be bio-available or “not a concern.”
*Or using regulatory standards and levels that were set — wholly or partly — by the regulated industry.
While the potential toxicity risk of an individual/ particular product, as used by a particular consumer, may be nearly impossible to quantify (given the sheer number of toxic products we have in our homes), the inclusion of these toxic metals in consumer products seems irresponsible by modern standards.
It’s also important to note that, regardless of whether or not a final manufactured product presents a toxicity risk to the end-user, using toxicants in the manufacturing process for consumer goods poses potentially extreme exposure risks to the workers engaged in materials mining and refining for the creation of the components used in the eventual manufacturing of the finished products. Not to mention the impact of these products at the end of their life cycles, the impact on the families, local communities, and those poor souls (often children) who subsist through the repurposing and/or recovery from our steady consumer product export stream of used-up, broken, dead, or simply unwanted “post-consumer waste.”
What I choose for my family…
In making my personal decision as to whether or not any consumer goods are safe (or an ideal choice) for my family, I look for things that are ideally first free of Lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium (free of even “trace” levels), and then expand my concerns to Antimony and other carcinogens if they are present.
What might help you make a decision…
If consumers want more information, I always encourage people to ask cookware product companies — especially IF the company has done leach testing — for any relevant test results when available for the public to review. In making this inquiry, it is also important to know what metals the product was leach- tested for.
More XRF test results for Visionware:
Below are links to five additional articles with test results for more Visionware pieces so you can compare different items and get a sense of my concern. Please note: These test results include results from several newly made Corning Visions pieces (2018 — purchased directly from the manufacturer) that were positive for trace levels of Lead when tested with an XRF instrument.
- Small Saucepan — the year of manufacture is unknown
- 2018 Medium-Sized Amber lid — positive for Lead
- 2018 Large-Sized Amber lid — positive for Lead
- 2018 Small-Sized Amber lid — positive for Lead
- Another 2018 Small Sized Amber lid — also positive for Lead
Tamara, what do you use to cook for your family?
For my family, I choose undecorated cast iron, clear glass, and stainless steel for cooking. To see products I recommend that are the same as or similar to items I use for my family, click here.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and also for taking a moment to share it with others!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions! I have been overwhelmed with traffic on this website recently, but I will do my best to answer questions personally as soon as I can.