Glazed china, mostly made prior to 1970 or newly imported, is a big source of lead in diets. The glazing that’s applied to the dinnerware is the real culprit. Glazing creates a glossy finish that can be colored, clear or white. China, stoneware, ceramics and terra cotta can all contain lead, especially if the pieces are old or if they’re imported from countries that have few, if any, standards about lead content.
Watch out for highly decorated, handcrafted, dinnerware, or that which has raised, hand-painted areas, because the decorative paint probably contains lead. If the colors are bright and vibrant, chances are the paint is lead based. Also avoid any ceramics that have been chipped, even if it is the finest china.
What about your dishes? Are your favorites, the cups and plates you use every day, a potential lead hazard for you and your children? And what can you do about it if they are? The following will hopefully answer questions you may have about the safety of your china. It is a government fact sheet. Another source of information is Center for Environmental Health.
You also want to check your wine and liquor decanters as many are made of lead crystal. Given families often keep liquors in these lead crystal decanters for years, the alcohol can become very toxic.