Introduction to Tamara Rubin
(for those new to this website!)
Tamara Rubin lives in Portland, Oregon and is a child health advocate, author, documentary filmmaker, and mother of four sons. Her young men are now 24, 18, 15, and 12. She has won multiple national awards for her Lead-poisoning prevention advocacy work (including two from U.S. government agencies). As of November 15, 2020, she has had more than 1.5 million unique individual readers visit her blog in the past 12 months (with over 3.5 million page views!) – from more than 200 countries (per Google Analytics) around the world!
It is with the help, support, and participation of these readers that she conducts and reports on independent testing of consumer goods for toxicants (Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Cadmium, and Antimony), using high-accuracy X-Ray Fluoresence analysis (read more about that here). She goes by #LeadSafeMama on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram and has over 2,500 separate posts of information (mostly consumer goods test results) on her blog at LeadSafeMama.com.
Tamara’s advocacy work has been mentioned in print in The New York Times; the New York Post; Mother Jones; Parents Magazine; Vice.com; MNN.com; TruthOut; WebMD; the Huffington Post,;USA Today; Grok Nation, and more (too many outlets to list!) – and in other media (T.V. and radio), on the Today Show; Kids in the House; Al Jazeera English; The Voice of Russia; CBS This Morning, and through news stories on CBS; ABC; NBC, and even Fox News – as well as in countless podcasts and other interviews.
When tested with an XRF instrument the 2001 Butterfly Meadow pattern china dish pictured here had the following readings:
Glaze on the food surface of the dish
(the white and colored areas all had similar readings)
- Lead (Pb): 63,700 +/- 2,000 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 97 +/- 14 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 138 +/- 63 ppm
- Zirconium (Zr): 4,271 +/- 167 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 1,126 +/- 74 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 829 +/- 167 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 362 +/- 181 ppm
This is NOT illegal.
Newly manufactured items intended for use by children today (post-2011) are considered illegal (and unsafe) if the paint, glaze or coating is 90 ppm Lead (or higher). China (and any dishware for that matter) is not considered to be an “item intended for use by children” and therefore is not regulated for total Lead content in the paint, glaze or decorative elements. As a result, even brand new china can have unsafe levels of Lead (unsafe when compared to the regulatory standards for items intended for use by children.)
Are these readings accurate?
Test results reported here on the Lead Safe Mama blog are accurate, replicable and science-based. One full set of XRF test results is always reported, however tests are done multiple times to confirm the results. Each set of test results reported is from a 60-second test unless otherwise noted. All components and colors are tested. The instrumentation used for the testing reported on this blog is the same instrumentation used by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission to test consumer goods for the presence toxic heavy metals (like Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic and Mercury.) To learn more about the testing reported on this blog, click here.
What does Lenox have to say about this?
When Lenox has been approached about the concern for Lead in their dishware (over the past 12 years since I have been testing their products) their representatives have repeated the same party line that has been shared so many other companies who have made dishware (or other products) for more than a decade. The majority of these companies that have been in business for decades often say something (in response to inquiries from my readers) that makes it sound like their products are always safe and have always been safe. For example the language usually is along the lines of “Our products have always met or exceeded all regulatory standards at the time of manufacture.” These types of comments are doublespeak given the extreme changes in safety standards over the years, and are a way for the company to specifically avoid taking responsibility for historically toxic products that may not be considered safe if manufactured today.
Here are some examples of other companies who have responded to my testing in this way (deflecting blame or hiding the truth in doublespeak as a way of denying any historic or current wrongdoing.)
- Here’s how Corningware has responded to the same concern.
- Here’s how Tupperware has responded to the findings of Lead, Mercury and Arsenic in their vintage products.
- Here’s how Corelle has responded to the concern for Lead in their dishes.
- Here’s how Xtrema / Ceramcor responded to my findings of Lead (and many other metals) in their “metals-free” pans.
- Here’s Young Living’s response to my findings of Lead in their diffusers.
- Here’s DoTerra’s response (also to my findings of Lead in their diffusers)
- Here’s Green Sprouts’ response to my findings of Lead paint on their infant sippy cups.
- Here’s Pura Kiki’s response to findings of Lead in their insulated stainless steel baby bottles.
A handful of companies have responded much more proactively to my findings of unsafe levels of Lead in products they either manufacture or sell:
- Here’s Fisher Price’s response to the findings of Lead in their vintage toys.
- Here’s Instant Pot’s response to my findings of Lead in their products.
- Here’s Jervis & George’s response to my findings of Lead in their infant feeding products.
- Here’s Mighty Nest’s response to my reporting of Lead in one of the products they were selling.
At the time of writing this post I don’t have a specific response example from Lenox available, but I am going to dig through my archives and check with my readers and I will update this post with an example as soon as I can find it.
The main concern is not whether or not dishes met the regulatory standards at the time of manufacture, but how are they holding up (from a toxics perspective) two decades later.
While these Lenox Butterfly Meadow dishes may have complied with regulatory limits for leaching of Lead (from their highly Leaded glazes) at the time of manufacture, the likelihood that they are not now leaching Lead, 20 years later… after two decades of regular daily use as intended (including use in the dishwasher, microwave and freezer! …as all are labeled appropriate)… is slim. In my experience, dishes with Lead levels this high are highly likely to be leaching at unsafe levels given the age and normal usage patterns, when used as intended. You can read more about those specific concerns here, link.
Some additional reading for those who want to dig a little deeper into this subject:
- First, here is a video that shows you how to quickly and efficiently use this blog (there are over 2,600 posts and pages with information here at the time of publishing this post – with new posts added daily.)
- Here is the “Lenox” overview post on the blog, with links to all of the other Lenox examples I have tested. If you scroll through the examples you will note that most are positive for at least some Lead (until about 2015.)
- I have several posts about choosing Lead free dishes for your family. You will see how to find them all when you watch the video, but you can also click on these three posts for starters: ONE, TWO, THREE.
As always thank you for reading and for sharing my posts. Please let me know if you have any questions. I will do my best to answer them personally although it may take a long time (there were over 1,100,000 unique individual readers here on the Lead Safe Mama blog in 2020 – from over 200 countries – so I cannot realistically answer each and every question – but I try! To see all the countries with Lead Safe Mama readers in 2020, click here.)