Monday, March 20, 2006

Still using leaded stemware?!

It must be time to post about…
Wineries sued over lead glassware!

"Dozens of California wineries are now among the hundreds of businesses that have been hit with what many are calling "predatory" lawsuits relating to lead in stemware.
The lawsuits are based on the California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65. Businesses that fail to provide proper warning signs about chemicals in glassware, including lead and cadmium, can be liable for penalties of up to $2,500 per violation per day, which when calculated based on the number of individual sales can be significant."

Like I wasn't already aware of this as a cause for concern...I had mentioned this on a post back of mine back in July of ’04 regarding Riedel glassware. [See the greatest-trick-riedel-ever-played.] Studies showing the link between leaded glassware and lead in acidic beverages have been around for a good decade-plus [see below for some links]...

Currently I don’t intend to focus solely on Riedel, but rather on all purveyors of leaded crystal glassware, though I still think the Riedel party-line-dogma of a different shape glass for each wine varietal to direct it to a different part of the tongue to be pure bunk.
But the problem here I guess shouldn’t be that the lawsuits are limited to the wineries, who frankly I don’t believe have given the issue any fore thought at all, but should focus on the manufacturers who are making a product known to contribute lead to your acidic beverages.

In fact, those who manufacture these items should be held accountable also for propagating the “leaded crystal” equals “high class” myths – among others – so I guess the marketing arm should be under the microscope as well.

Crystal may leach lead into food FDA Consumer May 1991
"Leaded crystal decanters may be beautiful, but they also may pose a serious health threat, a recent study suggests.
Researchers from FDA and Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons found that when alcoholic and other beverages are stored in crystal decanters, the decanters release lead into the liquid. As a result, FDA is advising people not to use crystal decanters or other crystal ware to store beverages or foods.
FDA warns that infants and children are particularly vulnerable and may experience adverse health effects even from low levels of lead exposure. The agency advises the following:
* Don't store foods or beverages, especially alcoholic beverages and other products with a high acid content (fruit juice, tomato sauce, vinegar, wine, etc.), in crystal glassware.
* Don't feed infants and children from crystal baby bottles or glasses.
* Pregnant women should not use crystal glassware.
* Decrease the frequency of use of crystal wine glasses, particularly by women of childbearing age.

FDA tested 60 samples of crystal ware from 17 different countries for leachable lead content. In the experiments, FDA scientists used in the glassware an acetic acid solution similar in acidity to household vinegar. Results showed that over a 24-hour period, amounts of lead released into the solution ranged from non-detectable levels to 7.2 parts per million. One experiment shows that when acidic juices or warmed infant formula were poured into crystal baby bottles, lead levels in the beverages rose. FDA and the crystal ware industry are performing additional studies on the release of lead by crystal glassware.

FDA presently has no maximum allowable level for lead leached from crystal ware. But experts recognize that lead is hazardous to health. Because lead accumulates in the body, limiting exposure to it is essential."


"The rate of leaching of lead from production processed glassware containing about 24% PbO (lead oxide) was investigated. The glassware was exposed to acidic wines, orange juice and distilled water, at room temperature and at 60 C, at periods of up to 41 days. Leaching was low initially, for up to 2 days, followed by a rapid increase in Pb (lead) levels in the contact liquid, and finally by slower increases in Pb (lead) levels, from the 24th day onwards. Levels as high as 8.5 ppm of Pb (lead) were recorded. Wine leached more Pb (lead) than orange juice, and distilled water showed no detectable Pb (lead) levels after 41 days. Fine polishing increased the rate of leaching, whereas acid polishing resulted in a decrease."

Co-operative study on the release of lead from crystalware 1998
Older (antique) is better...?
"The whole spectrum of lead-bearing glasses from 7 up to 32% PbO was investigated. Short-term extraction tests carried out with 4% acetic acid on three sets of 24% PbO stemware of different composition, show that lead release is closely related to the hydrolytic resistance of the glass. A linear correlation was found between sodium released from the bulk glass and lead released from the surface at any time after the first leach. Experiments of repeated leaching with wine and brandy showed that lead release decreases with increasing number of extractions, similarly to the decrease observed with 4% acetic acid. Long-term experiments carried out with brandy on a set of six decanters for three months at room temperature confirmed the well-known square root dependence of lead release with time. On the basis of these results an estimation of the risk associated with the conditions of consumer use is attempted."

So, I guess the guidelines should be as follows: Don't use leaded stemware (for anything except pencil holders), but if you do, try to find some antique glassware or glassware which has been acid washed to remove some of the surface lead prior to your use. Also, leaded glass decanters aren't a good idea, so we should probably just get rid of them all.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


March 18, 2008 3:06 AM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

That's it?

That's your whole response??

Never since Dick Cheney's erudite "So?" response when told that the public's opinion of the Iraq war was 2:1 against it ever having been worth it, has there been such a classy, well thought out response.

Dear Anon, we are all in amazement of your powers of conversation and persuasion!


March 22, 2008 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the first Anon, man you ahve to be stupid, this is a good articles with plenty of references. It all makes sense and you're probably involved with collecting/selling/manufacturing lead stemware and are just pissed people are speaking up.

Good article!

March 30, 2008 6:33 PM  

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