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). Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
Are enamelware mugs usually a problem?
I generally recommend avoiding all enamelware, because it can be very high for toxicants and almost always ends up chipping and deteriorating. When it is in the form of a mug, it is also most often used with hot and acidic beverages (coffee, tea, hot cider, etc.), which can expedite any potential future leaching (even if the mug passes leach testing for toxicants at the time manufacture).
How bad is this mug?
I have tested quite a few enamelware mugs, but I don’t recall one ever testing positive for FOUR separate toxicants at such high levels — so this is an interesting find! Not only was it alarming that it tested positive for Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic and Antimony at fairly high levels but this is a NEW product! Although enamelware mugs have been around for at least a hundred years, this one is not vintage or old in any way — I found this brand-spanking-new, playfully-decorated mug in a trendy little gift shop, which had set up several inviting arrangements throughout the store featuring variations of these “retro-chic” enamelware mugs from this brand produced for the 2019 Christmas season! (I found this one on the clearance rack — Christmas having come and gone by then — for $2 or $3. I would normally only expect so many toxicants, and at such high levels, to be found in a vintage or antique enamelware mug so this discovery has reinvigorated my stance that one should avoid enamelware at all costs (at least for functional food-use purposes)!
Tell me more about this particular mug…
This mug is from the Chad Barrett collection, by Creative Co-op. I purchased it at a gift shop in Washington state. When tested with an XRF instrument it had the following readings:
Red Area Focus — 60 seconds
- Lead (Pb): 7,862 +/- 179 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 3,502 +/- 78 ppm
- Arsenic (As): 1,088 +/- 90 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 2,772 +/- 175 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 752 +/- 52 ppm
- Selenium (Se): 1,409 +/- 42 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 882 +/- 42 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 103 +/- 24 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 425 +/- 62 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 19,700 +/- 800 ppm
Black Lip Focus — 60 seconds
- Lead (Pb): 89 +/- 29 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 40 +/- 16 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 619 +/- 106 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 35,000 +/- 2,200 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 454 +/- 50 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 144 +/- 61 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 17,400 +/- 900 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 367 +/- 156 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 14,900 +/- 1,000 ppm
- Bismuth (Bi): 79 +/- 28 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 21,200 +/- 3,300 ppm
White Focus (on handle) — 60 seconds
- Lead (Pb): 34 +/- 10 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 3,562 +/- 159 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 1,031 +/- 41 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 157 +/- 25 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 96 +/- 31 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 143 +/- 29 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 701 +/- 79 ppm
- Bismuth (Bi): 21 +/- 10 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 42,900 +/- 1,000 ppm
Each test on this website is completed using a freshly-calibrated high-precision XRF instrument, testing in “Consumer Goods” mode. Test results are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Each test (on each component) is repeated multiple times, to confirm the results.
Some additional reading that may be of interest:
- To see more products from this brand (Creative Co-op) that I have tested, click here.
- To see more enamelware pieces I have tested, click here.
- To see more enamelware mugs I have tested, click here.
- To see more mugs I have tested, click here.
- To see more Christmas decor I have tested, click here.
- To read more about the testing methodology behind the results we report on this website, click here.
As always, thank you for reading and sharing this work.
Please let me know if you have any questions.