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).
This is an ad-free article
Published: April 4, 2022
Updated: November 3, 2023
- Cadmium is a known carcinogen and does not belong in our cookware. To read more about Cadmium toxicity, click this link.
- Lead causes neurological damage, interrupts most biological systems, and does not belong in our cookware. To learn more about Lead exposure, please watch the documentary feature film I produced and directed (a link to watch it for free is here.)
- It is completely (100%) legal for Le Creuset to have consistently (recently and historically) used Lead and Cadmium in their cast iron cookware enamels and in the glazes on their ceramic cookware, dishware and food serving products.
- Total content of toxic heavy metals in cookware and dishware is only regulated if the item has been expressly manufactured and marketed as “intended for use by children.” In general, cookware and dishware is not considered (by any regulatory agency) to be an “item intended for use by children.”
- Given the levels of Lead and Cadmium found in most of these Le Creuset products (historic and new), IF they were “items intended for use by children” they would be illegal by most modern standards.
- For context: items intended for use by children must not test positive for more than 90 ppm Lead (in the paint, glaze or coating.)
- The hazard level for total Cadmium content in items intended for use by children ranges from 40 ppm to 300 ppm (depending on the object and depending on different regulatory agency standards for that class of object – for example toys vs. jewelry & Washington State vs. Federal)
- Total content standards are not applied to cookware and dishware, the only currently applicable U.S. Federal standards are leach testing standards. Leach testing standards / limits must be met in order for an item to be sold new, HOWEVER once that item has been well used (daily use of a favorite cooking pot or coffee cup for example) and used with hot and acidic foods (coffee, tea, lemon juice, tomatoes, vinegar, etc.) it may no longer pass leach testing standards.
- Leach testing standards are also not typically applied to (evaluated for) the exterior of a food preparation vessel.
- If a well-used piece of cookware no longer passes leach testing standards for heavy metals AND IF there are confirmed heavy metals in the coatings, these items present a significant potential exposure risk to the consumer.
- The solution to this problem/concern is to only use cookware (and dishware) that DOES NOT test positive for these metals (even at trace amounts, as lower and lower amounts of toxicant exposure are being shown – by recent scientific studies – to cause harm to humans).
- While some of Le Creuset’s newer, lighter-colored products test positive for these toxicants at much lower levels (so it would appear that they are making some efforts to address this issue and that they are aware of the concern), Le Creuset has never made any public statement addressing their use of these toxic heavy metals in their cookware (historically or currently).
- So, most consumers have NO IDEA they are cooking with Lead-containing or Cadmium-containing cookware.
Lead Safe Mama, LLC’s position on this:
- IF you knew these pots and pans were made with toxic chemicals (heavy metals, including: Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Antimony), you probably would not have purchased them (or registered for them for your wedding).
- IF you knew, you likely would have instead chosen a different (safer/toxicant-free) product to use to cook for your family.
Do you agree with that?
Scroll down for examples of specific Le Creuset items we have tested
We consider our job here at Lead Safe Mama, LLC to be to help educate consumers so that they can make safer choices to protect their families from exposure to toxic heavy metals in their homes, schools and communities. Given the nature of consumer culture, readers here at LeadSafeMama.com / TamaraRubin.com persistently ask for recommendations for specific safer choices (links to safer products they can buy with a click or two.) We hate making these sorts of recommendations (as products change from year to year, and what might have been true one year may not be true another year – for the same product – given supply chain changes, etc) – however, as a result of this request from our readership, we (rather reluctantly) do recommend products that we expect will be safer from a toxicant perspective (based on our history of testing those products / products from those brands and our experience using those products) and we do have several articles and links to help you make specific choices. We prefer (in general) that you read the guidelines that we have written to help you make safer choices no matter what product you buy – but here are some articles with specific product links (& related information):
- This is our overview article on how to choose safer cookware: link
- This is a tour of my kitchen with links to most of the things I have and use in my home: link
- This is the shopping website where we list items with NO explanations and NO test results: link
- This is our Amazon store: link
- This is a link to our recently monthly promoted posts with links to Lead free choices on Amazon: link
- This is our “Safer Choices” overview article (with links to different overview articles for different categories of products): link
- This is the link to the website menu, where you find items via quick buttons for categories and types of items: link
- Here’s an article with everything I bought for my son’s apartment (when he moved out for the first time during the pandemic!): link
- This video shows you how to efficiently search the approximately 4,000 posts and articles with information here on this website – including all of the ways you can look for Lead-free things on this site: link
Test Results For Specific Le Creuset Examples
You can read more about the test results for each of the pots pictured in the graphic above, here on the LeadSafeMama.com website at the numbered links (below), which correspond to the numbers in the image above:
Each of the articles linked below has test results for all components tested (newer articles include all components, older articles may only have test results for some components of the item.) Most of the articles linked below also discuss whether or not there is a likely health concern with the object pictured and tested. There are also other overview articles (linked below) that cover different elements related to the concern for the presence of toxicants in dishware.
Item #1) Yellow Enameled Cast Iron Pot / Casserole
Item #2) Red Glazed Ceramic Bowl
Item #3) Blue Glazed Ceramic Custard Pot
Item #4) Yellow Enameled Cast Iron Sauce Pan
Item #5) Red Enameled Steel Tea Pot (1 of 2)
Item #6) Green Enameled Cast Iron Casserole
Item #7) Red Enameled Steel Tea Pot (2 of 2)
Some additional & relevant (related) reading:
- Click here to see all of the Le Creuset items we have tested and reported on.
- While toxic chemicals (specifically heavy metals – including Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic and Antimony) are frequently found in enameled cast iron ware, the levels of heavy metals (in newer products especially) tend to be higher in the colorful exterior coatings and lower (but still often present at concerning levels) on the interior coatings (which are frequently more muted colors.) This article discusses why it is a problem if the more toxic elements of cookware / ktichenware are “only on the outside.”
- This article answers the question “but will using this item actually poison me?”
- This article discusses the common response “But I have used this for decades and I am FINE, so this cannot be a real problem that you need to be concerned about!”
- Why is it a problem if cookware test positive for Cadmium, a known Carcinogen? Details here: https://tamararubin.com/2017/01/cadmium-concerns/.
- Why is it a problem if pots, dishes, and cookware test positive for Lead? Details here: https://tamararubin.com/topics/does-vintage-and-new-functional-pottery-and-dishware-have-unsafe-levels-of-lead/.
- Lead Safe Mama, LLC overview article, discussing how to make safer choices for cookware (regardless of the brand): https://tamararubin.com/2021/01/i-want-to-buy-some-nontoxic-cookware-which-pots-pans-are-the-safest-for-cooking-which-pots-pans-are-the-least-toxic/.
~ End ~