Patterned utensils contain lead that can pass to body. Prolonged eating in these utensils may land up one in dreaded lead poisoning.
This is an unsuspected source. An equal source is printed paper, sometimes some chew it out of stress and sometimes dry food material is served in India in it.
Pretty Patterns That Camouflage a Poison
To do the research, Dr. O’Malley, 48, enlisted four medical students and a colleague, Dr. Thomas J. Gilmore, a second-year resident at Jefferson, to buy pottery samples and test them. They wound up with a collection sold at 32 locations, with 87 pieces bought in Chinatown and 49 in nearby neighborhoods.
CONTAMINATED Ceramics sold in Philadelphia’s Chinatown tested positive for lead.
Then Dr. O’Malley’s team performed additional laboratory tests on 25 of the pieces to confirm the findings, establish the degree of contamination and determine if the lead is leachable — that is, if it could be ingested along with food. Three plates and two spoons were found to be leaching lead in quantities that far exceeded the limits set by the Food and Drug Administration. One of the plates leached lead at more than 145 parts per million. The agency’s limit is 2 parts per million.
The American Academy of Pediatrics generally recommends that children be tested twice for lead before age 2, with some variations depending on local conditions. Dr. O’Malley said he was concerned that he was working with a population that was not being screened at all.
“If you have 4- or 5-year-old kids eating with these utensils, or a pregnant woman, they’re ingesting lead with them,” he said. “No one’s really looking at these patients.”