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Food Chem Toxicol. 1994 Mar;32(3):285-8.

Release of lead from crystal decanters under conditions of normal use.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Hygiene and Toxicology, Olin Corporation, New Haven, CT 06511.


The pattern of release of lead (Pb) from crystal was investigated using new and used decanters. Two decanters in use prior to this study yielded significantly less Pb into sherry than did a decanter during its initial use. Pb concentrations in sherry after storage for 2 months reached 50, 163 or 1410 micrograms/litre in decanters previously used for 20, or for 10 yr, or a new decanter, respectively. The new decanter imparted progressively less Pb through normal use. Pb concentration was assayed in sherry during a series of three separate sampling periods, each 2 months in duration. The Pb concentration at the end of each period was 1410, 330 or 150 micrograms/litre respectively. These data are consistent with ceramic chemistry theory, which predicts that leaching of Pb from crystal is self-limiting exponentially as a function of increasing distance from the crystal-liquid interface. The results of this investigation support the concept that sufficient ageing of Pb crystal prior to use reduces, to acceptable levels, the human health risk to adults associated with consumption of beverages stored in Pb crystal decanters.

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