questionshow safe are lead crystal glasses?

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Short answer: Never store food or drink in lead crystal. Glasses may be safely used for drinks that will be consumed immediately, since there is no time for the lead to leach into the liquid.

Longer answer: http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/wine/lead-crystal.asp

My answer: I have lead crystal vases, ornaments, and even a lamp, but I stopped using ANY lead crystal for food or drink. My crystal wine glasses, drink glasses and decanters have been retired to display shelves, replaced with unleaded glass for actual use. Any lead damage to the neural system is permanent, so why gamble?

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Here's the wikipedia entry, which is as useful as anything else on this subject.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_glass

I do want to point out that unless these glasses are antiques, it may be that they do not actually contain lead. Do you know the maker? Do you still have the box?

If they genuinely are leaded, then you should set them aside as a thing of beauty, and plan on drinking nothing out of them. While things like water are probably safe, lead is additive. Your brain is important to your quality of life, as are other organs that can be adversely affected by lead poisoning. Hard alcohol (whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, etc.) aka distilled liquor will be the quickest to cause lead to leach from the glass.

I'll check back to see if you've provided more details.

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If you're concerned over lead leeching, you can get a water lead test kit from most hardware stores, and use that to find out if you have any risk at all.

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@shrdlu: There is a sticker on the box that says "Lead Crystal" so I assume that means that there is lead in the glasses. Based on the link that @adadavis posted, it looks like the amount of lead that would get into a drink after two days is only slightly more than is in drinking water but it is still more. I figure if the beverage was only in the glass for 10 minutes, there would not be much lead but I'm not sure if I'm OK with "not much" lead. I think I prefer no lead...

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@benyust2: I'll say it again, so that I can be crystal clear on this (humor intentional). I would not use anything that said leaded crystal to eat or drink anything out of, no matter how innocuous it might seem. I strongly recommend the "no lead" option.

You ingest enough heavy metals in your daily life. Why add any, when you have control over it? Appreciate them for their beauty, and leave it at that. I have some items that are leaded crystal, and they're in display cases.

By the way, if anyone reading this has "cut glass" items, those are also leaded crystal.

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I wonder how many people who would never drink out of leaded glasses would still drive in traffic with their windows down.

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The alcohol consumed will do more brain damage than the lead glass it's poured from.