You've tossed suspect toys and lunchboxes, but there's another place lead could be lurking: in your dinner plates. The FDA allows manufacturers to finish plates with glazes that contain lead at the amount of three parts per million. The resulting smooth veneer allows bright colors and decorative patterns to show through. But even small amounts of lead can add to your body's overall toxic load. Here's what you can do to minimize your risk.
PURCHASE LEAD-FREE DINNERWARE. It's the best way to avoid exposure altogether. If you don't want to restock your kitchen, use a heavy-metal test kit, such as LeadCheck or Lead Inspector, which detect lead-leaching potential — not just whether it exceeds FDA amounts.
HAND-WASH PLATES YOU THINK MIGHT CONTAIN LEAD. Dishwashers' heat and intensity can damage lead-glazed surfaces, contaminating other items in the washer. Likewise, microwaving plates can cause lead to leach into food, according to a recent report published by the Environmental Defense Fund, which recommended nuking food in glass or white bowls.
SERVE ONLY LOW-ACID FOODS — think vegetables, rice, milk, beans, and grains — on dishes that contain lead. A 2006 report in California Agriculture showed that acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, soy sauce, and salad dressing, can eat away plates' glaze.
EAT FOODS RICH IN CALCIUM, IRON, AND VITAMIN C. Nutrient-deficient bodies absorb lead more easily. Milk, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables provide calcium; fish and iron-fortified cereals are good sources of iron; and oranges, tomatoes, and green peppers contain vitamin C. Also avoid saturated fats, which increase lead absorption.