Woman's potentially deadly discovery on dishes: 'Not worth it'

A woman thought she'd scored the deal of a lifetime when she was gifted a complete set of mid-century modern dishes.

The woman, from the US state of Missouri, said she received the white and blue plates, cups and bowls from a friend whose mum had them hidden in her home and hoped to use them for special occasions.

"Two years ago, one of my friends texted me telling me her mum found a whole set of mid century modern dishes in the crawl space of her house," she said.

"She didn't want them and asked her if she wanted them. My friend thought of me and asked if I wanted them.

Blue and white mid-century crockery set
The woman showed off her antique dish set which a friend gifted to her. Source: Facebook

"I asked her how much she wanted for them, it was a LOT of dishes and they are in mint condition. SHE GAVE THEM TO ME FOR FREE. We just now bought a house and I'm finally able to display them."

The excited woman said the haul included 12 cups, 20 salad plates, 10 dinner plates, 20 bowls, two egg cups, two ramekins, three juice cups, a creamer, a sugar bowl, a salt and pepper shaker, and a powdered sugar and a cinnamon shaker.

Photos posted to a popular Facebook page show the vintage plates stacked neatly on shelves at the happy recipient's new home.

Thousands of users were quick to praise the woman's "amazing find", saying they would love a set themselves.

However, others warned that the seemingly innocent gift could be hiding a potentially deadly secret — lead.

Vintage plates test positive for lead

In a follow-up post, the woman revealed some of the crockery had tested positive for the naturally occurring metal, preventing her from using them.

"The dishes with the pattern ARE POSITIVE FOR LEAD," she wrote, adding that she'd used a home testing kit.

"The swab turned purple almost immediately. The cups however came back safe! I will continue to display them.

Lead home testing kit positive result
She tested the crockery using a home-testing kit and it came back positive. Source: Facebook

"If you have these dishes, please, your health is more important than eating off of lead contaminated dishes! Just because you grew up eating off of lead dishes and are living does not mean it hasn’t or will not affect your health.

"It is not worth it! Having them on display is just as great. Thanks for all the love and stay safe!"

Lead has long been used in ceramic ware, both in glazes and in decorations, but exposure to it can be harmful to humans, and using lead-containing dishes is not recommended, according to the Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW).

Danger of lead in crockery

Lead is what gives dishes a smooth, glasslike finish and is mostly present in brightly-coloured and patterned ceramic or clay crockery.

It's often associated with rich or intense colours, the DCCEEW states, and is rarely found in plain white dishes.

"Lead-containing glazes or decorations on the outside of dishes or non-food surfaces are generally safer to use," the DCCEEW's website reads.

"The safest practice is to not use crockery that you are unsure of. In particular, if you do not know whether a dish contains lead, do not use it in your everyday routine."

Mid century modern plate set with lead exposure.
Lead exposure is harmful to humans and is often found in older ceramics and clay. Source: Facebook

Lead accumulates in your body, so even small amounts can pose a health hazard over time, and it's especially harmful to children, pregnant women and unborn babies.

Signs of acute lead poisoning can include muscle pains, fatigue, abdominal pains, headaches, nausea and vomiting and seizures. It can also cause some to slip into a coma.

Exposure to smaller amounts of lead over a longer time period — such as with crockery — can cause learning disabilities and behavioural problems, particularly in children, according to Victoria's Department of Health.

Exposure to high levels of lead may cause anaemia, weakness, kidney and brain damage.

Very high lead exposure can cause death, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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