The amount of Lead that is considered toxic in a newly manufactured item intended for use by children today (in 2019) is anything 90 ppm Lead (or higher) in the paint or coating. 100 ppm Lead (or higher) is considered unsafe/illegal in the substrate of an item intended to be used by children.
Vintage dishware is not regulated in this way (for total Lead content as detectable with an XRF instrument.) To learn more about XRF testing, click here. Even new / modern dishware is also not regulated for total Lead content as detectable with an XRF instrument.
XRF instrumentation is used by labs and government agencies (like the CPSC) to determine how much of metal (including toxicants like Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Arsenic) are in consumer goods (and therefore whether or not they are compliant with current regulatory standards. As a rule, regulatory agencies do not test or regulate vintage or antique items at all.
When tested with an XRF instrument (with each test done for at least 2-minutes/120 seconds) this vintage Strawberry Shortcake juice glass (c. 1980) had the following readings (metals not listed were not detected by the XRF instrument):
White Painted Area:
- Lead (Pb): 57,300 +/- 1,200 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 1,013 +/- 46 ppm
- Mercury (Hg): 77 +/- 37 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 122 +/- 26 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 16,00 +/- 600 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 528 +/- 135 ppm
Red Painted Area:
- Lead (Pb): 65,800 +/- 1,500 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 2,622 +/- 109 ppm
- Selenium (Se): 694 +/- 51 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 116 +/- 26 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 7,702 +/- 328 ppm
- Silver (Ag): 17 +/- 8 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 517 +/- 143 ppm
Green Painted Area:
- Lead (Pb): 55,800 +/- 1,300 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 1,916 +/- 81 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 2,302 +/- 121 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 1,873 +/- 90 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 1,390 +/- 173 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 9,109 +/- 369 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 468 +/- 140 ppm
- Cobalt (Co): 608 +/- 99 ppm
Plain Clear Glass (on bottom):
- Bromine (Br): 7 +/- 3 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 320 +/- 122 ppm
- Vanadium (V): 71 +/- 21 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 149 +/- 31 ppm
If you’re thinking “Now what should I do with these toxic items from my childhood?” you may want to check out this post. And if you would like more information (perhaps from the scientific community?) as to whether items like this are “really” a hazard (and potentially dangerous to your family), click here to read about a study from 2017 that addressed the concern for Lead and Cadmium (and other toxicants) found in glassware.
My personal recommendation is to not have items like this in your home, and definitely do not let your children drink from them or play with them. If you MUST hold on to these (for whatever sentimental reason) please consider putting them inside a sealed shadow box.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.