Concentrations of lead in ceramic tableware in South Africa

Authors

  • Angela Mathee 1.Environment and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Johannesburg, South Africa; 2.Department of Environmental Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0060-829X
  • Louise Renton Environment and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Johannesburg, South Africa https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8712-4564
  • Renée Street 1.Environment and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Johannesburg, South Africa; 2.Department of Environmental Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1983-8968

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2023/13853

Keywords:

lead, ceramic ware, food, South Africa

Abstract

Ceramic ware is used around the world, usually daily. In the past, lead was used in the glazes and decorative paints applied to ceramic ware, mainly to increase durability, impart a smooth, glasslike finish to glazes and intensify decorative pigments. However, this use of lead at times contributed to lead exposure and poisoning. While measures have been put in place to limit the use of lead in ceramic ware in well-resourced countries, there is relatively little information on the situation in poorly resourced settings. In the current preliminary South African study, we assessed the lead content and leaching rates from newly purchased ceramic ware. The majority of the 44 ceramic ware items had lead levels ≥ 90 ppm. Elevated lead concentrations were found in the leachate from only one item. The findings indicate a need for further research on the potential for lead exposure from ceramic wares, and support calls for increased attention to the many potential sources of lead exposure in poorly resourced settings.

Significance:

  • The study reveals the potential for lead contamination of certain types of ceramic ware available in South Africa.
  • Daily use of lead-contaminated ceramic ware may increase the risk of lead exposure, especially among the poorest.
  • The study findings are indicative of a need for further research to fully characterise the extent of lead in ceramic ware.

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Published

2023-09-28

How to Cite

Mathee, A., Renton, L., & Street, R. (2023). Concentrations of lead in ceramic tableware in South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 119(9/10). https://doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2023/13853

Issue

Section

Research Letter
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