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Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2014;65(4):301-9.

Exposure to lead and cadmium released from ceramics and glassware intended to come into contact with food.



The dietary intake of harmful elements, particularly lead and cadmium constitutes a health threat and essential measures should be undertaken to reduce consumer exposure. The latest risk assessments by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) have indicated that the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) for lead and cadmium do not ensure health safety and their review had to be undertaken. Migration from ceramics and glassware intended for food contact is an important source of lead and cadmium intake.


To study the release of lead and cadmium from ceramics and glassware (including decorated products) intended for food contact that are available on the Polish market and to assess the resulting health risk to the consumer.


Ceramics and glassware (mainly decorated) were sampled from the Polish market during 2010- 2012 throughout the country by staff of the Sanitary-Epidemiological Stations in accordance with monitoring procedures and guidelines designed by the National Institute of Public Health-National Institute of Hygiene. Migration of lead and cadmium was measured by incubating the samples with 4% acetic acid for 24 hours at a temperature of 22±2ºC in the dark. Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (FAAS) was used to measure these elements in food simulant according to a validated and accredited method (PN-EN ISO/IEC 17025).


1273 samples of ceramics and glass wares were analysed in 2010-2012. Lead and cadmium release were usually found to be below analytical detection limits. Permissible migration limits (as prescribed by the legislation) of these metals were rarely exceeded and were reported mainly in articles imported from outside the EU. Two imported and decorated ceramic flat plates released lead at 0.9 and 11.9 mg/dm2 (limit 0.8 mg/dm2) and 5 imported deep plates gave migration values of 4.7 mg/L, 4.9 mg/L, 5.6 mg/L, 6.1 mg/L, 8.6 mg/L (limit 4.0 mg/L). Lead migrations from ceramic ware rims above the 2.0 mg per product limit (as established in Polish Standard PN-B-13210:1997 [16]) were observed in 4 samples, at 2.1, 3.7, 4.2 and 14.4 mg per product, respectively. Migrations of cadmium from the ceramic samples' rims were within permissible limits. Majority of high migration results were obtained for decorated rims of glass vessels for beverages. The highest migration from the rim of an imported glass mug was reported at 163.8 mg/product for lead and at 8.96 mg/product for cadmium. Risk assessment indicated that exposures to lead and cadmium released from ceramic wares based on the migration limits set by the EU legislation lead to human intake close to, or exceeding reference doses. For a 20 kg b.w. child the lead BMDL01 value could thus be exceeded by over 30-fold and the cadmium TWI value 4-fold.


Review of EU legislation applicable to lead and cadmium migration limits from ceramics is necessary with an intention to lower such limits. The limits applied to the rims of ceramics and glassware intended for beverages should be included. The release of lead and cadmium at the maximum permissible levels for ceramics may lead to uptakes becoming hazardous to human health. Appropriate measures are thus necessary to reduce sources of exposure.


lead, cadmium, ceramic food contact articles, glass food contact articles, lead migration, cadmium migration, lead exposure, cadmium exposure, food contact articles, risk assessment.

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