NYC Department of Health warns about lead found in traditional ceramic

(NEW YORK) — Recent cases of lead poisoning have been associated with the use of traditional or handmade ceramic ware, a recent health advisory from the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene found.

On Monday, the department issued an announcement saying that it had identified 15 new cases of lead poisoning in children and adults, with elevated blood lead levels as high as 53 micrograms per deciliter, associated with the use of traditional ceramic ware used for cooking and serving foods or drinks.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is no identified safe blood level, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that doctors monitor children who have a blood lead level measured as 5 micrograms per deciliter and take steps to reduce the exposure to lead.

Exposure to lead can cause serious health problems. While patients may not look or feel sick, lead exposure can cause learning and behavior problems in children. For adults, it can increase blood pressure and affect the brain, kidneys and reproductive organs. For women who are pregnant, it can increase the risk of miscarriage and affect the unborn baby.

The NYC Department of Health and Hygiene identified that ceramic ware from countries including Mexico, Ecuador, Turkey, Morocco and Uzbekistan, have been found to contain lead levels thousands of times higher than regulatory limits.

To control the exposure of lead, the New York City Department of Health is asking health care providers to “ask their patients, particularly individuals of Latin American, North African and Eastern European descent,” about the type of ceramic ware used to prepare, cook, store or serve foods. If patients indicate that they indeed use these types of cookware, health care providers should consider giving patients a blood lead test and advise them to immediately stop use.

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