Please watch this 10 minute video first:
Here’s a short (2 min 55 seconds) follow-up video, too:
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 of 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
Published: December 2, 2021
Updated: November 23, 2022
Unfortunately, folks all over the world have imbued these vintage Pyrex pieces with sentimental “value.” These vintage dishes remind us of our mother, our grandmother (or even our great-grandmother!), and the time we spent with that person. People have forgotten (or perhaps never knew or never considered) that these pieces were manufactured long before any regulations governing the use of Lead in manufactured consumer goods even existed. These dishes (casseroles, mixing bowls, serving bowls, measuring cups, refrigerator dishes, custard cups, and more) are — simply put — not safe to use for food use purposes and most would be explicitly illegal if manufactured today, under modern regulatory standards. Your grandmother would not want you to risk the exposure — I promise you! For the specifics of this conversation, continue reading (and below that are some points addressing sentiments often expressed by that one family member who is quick to dismiss the concern!).
The numbered list below is the meat of this article…
- Did you know that Vintage Pyrex has scientifically confirmed unsafe levels of Lead in the decorative paint on the outside? This has been confirmed both with reactive agent home test kits, with XRF testing, AND with laboratory testing using the dust-wipe sampling methodology.
- Did you know that scientists have confirmed there is a potential significant risk to human health with Lead painted glassware? (2017 study from Plymouth, England — LINK)
- “But it is only on the outside — why is this a problem? The high-Lead paint doesn’t touch the food!” Did you know that the paint on the outside of your vintage Pyrex can (and does) wear off in your cooking environment? This link discusses that in detail.
- Have you ever held your vintage Pyrex up to the light, to easily see how much of the paint has worn off? If not, watch the second video above — or just take a moment right now and go grab ahold of your vintage Pyrex mixing bowl or casserole. Hold it up to the light, inspect and observe the scratches and other areas that are lighter, where paint is worn or missing.
- Did you know it literally only takes a microscopic amount of Lead to poison a child? Microscopic = invisible = too small to see with the naked eye. So if you can SEE areas where an amount of potentially high-Lead paint has worn off of your vintage Pyrex dishes (including small scratches), that is a very serious concern as the paint that has worn off may very well have worn off into your cooking environment. This linked article discusses that concern in more detail.
- Did you know that Pyrex uses the STANDARD CORPORATE PARTY LINE when asked about this? Their stance: “We’ve always followed all regulations at the time of manufacture.” Nice try, Slick — but there in fact WERE NO relevant regulations that were protective of human health at the time when this company mass-manufactured those Lead-painted items!
- Government agencies (both in the United States and internationally) all agree that no level of Lead exposure is safe for humans.
- For context: the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) passed a law in 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which states that toys and other consumer goods are considered unsafe (and illegal) to be sold for use by children if the Lead levels are 90 ppm or higher in the paint, glaze, or coating.
- Most vintage Pyrex pieces are indeed coated with high Lead paint (many in the range of 50,000 to 200,000 ppm Lead — with some pieces confirmed via testing to have Lead levels up to 5,000 times more Lead than the threshold that would be considered illegal for sale today in items intended for use by children*).
- *Dishes are used by children. Children eat food out of these casseroles, mixing bowls, and serving bowls, too.
- Vintage Pyrex items also often have high levels of Cadmium and Arsenic in the paint. Cadmium is a known carcinogen, and it is well established that Arsenic-poisoning can kill a person (especially with bodily accumulation over time).
- Not only is the paint on these Vintage Pyrex pieces high in Lead, but these items also normally test positive for Lead in the white milk glass substrate and can test positive for high levels of Arsenic in vintage clear glass examples.
- In most cases, the exterior paint on these vintage items WILL test positive with a reactive agent home test but don’t waste your money on the home test kits. You could buy a new set of Lead-free mixing bowls for less than the price of the test kits!* Instead, you can look up many of the paint colors, patterns, and styles we’ve already tested on our website (for free).
- The white milk glass substrate of vintage Pyrex items is also often positive for high levels of Lead — but that will NOT test positive with a reactive agent home test kit because those kits (this type) were NOT designed for testing glass, but rather HOUSE PAINT. This means they are really only reliable for testing paint.
- Note: there are no available home test kits for detecting Cadmium or Arsenic in consumer goods.
- Recent U.S. Federal and international (Unicef) reports have confirmed that, depending on which Blood Lead Level you use as a point of reference, either 1 in 3 children or 1 in 2 children have had an unsafe level of Lead in their blood in their lifetime.
- Considering that the impact of Lead exposure is cumulative (in my documentary film on the subject, Dr. Bruce Lanphear states how 90% of the Lead you have ever been exposed to is likely still in your body), as parents it is our duty to try and eliminate any known possible sources of Lead exposure from our children’s lives, homes, schools, and playgrounds if we can.
- My own children have permanent brain damage and other disabilities from being Lead-poisoned as babies. The goal of sharing this information with you (information about Lead in consumer goods) is to help you protect your babies (children, grandchildren, young women of childbearing age, etc.) so they don’t have the same challenges my children have as a result of their Lead exposure. Being a parent of children that have sustained the types of permanent brain and body damage that Lead-poisoning causes is not fun — it adds a huge time, money, and stress burden on the entire family every single day, and is not something I would wish on anyone!
- In the sprit of “first do no harm,” PLEASE stop using vintage Pyrex for functional food-use purposes (cooking food, serving food, storing food) until someone (anyone — the Pyrex company? A university study?) clearly demonstrates that these vintage products are safe for food use purposes. Spoiler Alert: no one will ever be able to demonstrate that these vintage Pyrex pieces are safe because these products are not safe. Moreover, no one will undertake a study trying to establish their safety either — as no one (no company or agency) stands to benefit financially from such a study.
- MOST IMPORTANT POINT OF THIS POST: non-toxic, safer replacement items are readily available, inexpensive, and easy to find. There’s no reason to use Lead-painted cookware in the modern era. We know better. #KnowBetterDoBetter.
- Check out my websites: www.LeadSafeMama.com or www.ShopLeadSafeMama.com for safer choices, and for general guidelines in choosing safer cookware (so you can know what to look for — no matter where you choose to buy it)!
- REMINDER: Watch the two short videos embedded at the top of this page, too. They are a quick, informative summary of the issue. I recorded and posted these on YouTube in November 2021.
- #DitchThePyrex, and watch the two videos above. #VintagePyrex.
- If you really want to keep your vintage Pyrex items for decorative purposes, please store them in a locked, sealed cabinet (behind glass?), as the paint can easily chalk and create house dust with hazardous levels of Lead (wherever they may be stored for display).
Click any of the keywords at the top of this post to see more posts tagged with that keyword category.
Some additional reading that may be of interest:
- The Pyrex category of posts on this website.
- The Pyrex Measuring Cups category of posts on this website.
- The Pyrex Mixing Bowls category of posts on this website.
- The Pyrex Casseroles category of posts on this website.
- The Red Pyrex category of posts on this website.
- The Vintage Pyrex Refrigerator Dish category of posts on this website.
- Here are safer choices for mixing bowls.
- Here are safer choices for refrigerator dishes.
- Here are safer choices for casserole dishes.
Here’s the general introduction I provide on a lot of my posts, for those who may be new to or have possibly stumbled upon my work while just casually browsing, or conducting more serious research:
Tamara Rubin is an internationally recognized, Federal award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety and childhood Lead-poisoning prevention. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. She began testing consumer goods for toxicants in 2009 and was the parent advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017 (featured on CBS This Morning). In 2022 in collaboration with readers on the LeadSafeMama.com website, Tamara has been responsible for three product recalls so far (two baby bottles with Lead and one Lead-painted toy.) She uses XRF testing (a scientific method used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for metallic toxicants (including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, and Arsenic). All test results reported here on LeadSafeMama.com are science-based, accurate, and replicable. To read more about the testing methodology employed for the test results reported on this blog, please click this link.
For the naysayers (or folks who stumbled across the Snopes article from 2016):
Does vintage Pyrex really have Lead?
Do new Pyrex kitchen items have Lead?
Is vintage Pyrex painted with Lead paint?
I heard that Snopes said this is not true.
- Please start by watching each of the YouTube videos above, as they discuss the issues with the FALSE Snopes article in detail. After you watch the videos, read the rest of this post for more information.
- If you want a full history and lots of detail about my interactions with Snopes over the years (including videos of me asking the founder of Snopes to retract the FALSE article), click here.
- Why is this a problem if the Lead paint is only on the outside of the dishes? Click this link to read that answer.
- How to respond when your elders say “Well we survived this so it must be fine.” (Click here).
- For my point-by-point (relatively snarky) takedown of the December 2016 article from Snopes, click here.
- If you have not yet seen this report on how Snopes often writes articles (including using plagiarism) only to capitalize on viral traffic from others’ websites — as a strategy to drive traffic to their site — click here.
- Read this post for more information about how much Lead it takes to poison a human being.
Want to make a difference? Write to Snopes!
After reading this full post and watching the above videos, if you want to write Snopes and ask them to retract the 2016 article because it is false, misleading, and potentially creating harmful outcomes for families… try the emails below (please also request that they print a retraction for all of their false, misleading and misogynistic statements in their 2019 article about my work). If you find another appropriate e-mail address, please post that in the comments below. Thank you!
- Or use the contact form on their website!
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