A recent study in the UK found harmful levels of toxic metals in some types of painted glassware.  The samples were purchased new or acquired second-hand including tumblers, beer glasses, shot glasses, wine glasses and jars.  A large portion of the decorative drink ware tested contained high levels of lead and cadmium.  These two toxic heavy metals are sometimes added to paint to create vivid colors.  Though the research was based in the UK, Consumer Reports advised U.S. consumers to be on alert.  The nonprofit organization advises the following:

  • Young children or pregnant women should not use painted glassware.
  • Adults should limit their use of painted glasses.
  • Wash painted glassware by hand.
  • Check for labels such as “Not for Food Use” or “For Decoration Only”.
  • Use caution with pottery or ceramic ware that is handmade or antique with bright colors (orange, yellow, or red).
  • Lead check swabs will NOT alert you to the presence of lead in painted glassware.
  • Use lead crystal ware only for special occasions.
  • Consider lead crystal alternatives.
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