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Problem with vintage dishes

 
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Choosing to be a stay at home mom, my husband injuring his neck rendering him unable to work, added to the fact I'm just lousy with money.  We have had to do a lot of corner cutting along the way.  The thrift store was my friend.  I got some amazing deals for sometimes even new stuff.  One day they had boxes of Corelle dishes.   They were complete, and I don't remember what I paid, but it is a great deal.  I loved it, tough, thin so it didn't take up a lot of space.  It started a collection, I now have lots of colors and styles, and I love it.  I discovered, recently some are even worth money.  Because of this, I thought it has been harder to find. The other day I got 4 of the small plates, 4 saucers, and 4 bowels for 5.00.  For for I looked up the pattern, to see if I got a deal. I did it was the first pattern made. Then I see an article about Corelle containing lead.  Not just one article, but many, even Corelle saying to use anything made before 2009 as decorative.  I'm so bummed, I love these plates.  We own an old house, so my kids were tested for lead, and it was negative.  But we have been using it for many years.  Now I have to buy new plates, and figure out what to do with the old ones.  Plus I can't seem to figure out if it's ok to use the bowels and cups. The lead is in the color and patterns. The bowls and cups don't have color or pattern on the inside.  I'm sad I have to buy new plates, have to get rid of my happy collection, and mad this information isn't more available.  If anyone knows about the bowels and cups, please let me know. Thanks
 
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I like my Corelle bowls. Since the food-contact surface doesn't have any decoration, I will continue to use them.

I get the distinct impression that the claims by bloggers (who are quoting other bloggers) have been sexed up quite a bit. This is sometimes known as scarelore. My 2c.
 
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I don't remember where I found the information.

This post is from 2018 so maybe since then, the newer dishes do have lead.

Anne Miller said, "I understand the all white Correll dishes by Corning are lead free.  I resisted these for years but love them for their durability.



Peter said, "I understand from Tamara Rubin that the Corelle dishes you mentioned are lead free, but the MUGS that come in the set DO contain lead.



https://permies.com/t/86383/kitchen/Tools-Kitchen-life-lot-easier#712137
 
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Wow. I have used the Corelle winter white (I think, is the color name) pure white, no color or pattern for years. My family and extended family have had the multitude  of corelle many with patterns as well.
 
pollinator
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My purchase of Corelle dishware is of the all-white variety and done in the past year.  Still, an unfortunate development for so many who have or may have been using contaminated ceramics from various sources.  Just posting this additional informative article....if it's blocked for too many Permies members, I'll remove it in a future edit:

https://www.consumerreports.org/lead/why-you-should-test-your-vintage-or-imported-dishes-for-lead-a2722202665/

Of all of the other toxics we have to worry about, this would not have been at the top of my list!...... Hmmmmm.
 
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Due to living with my mom who doesn't like my heavy antique china, we use Corelle dishes.
Due to my health stuff, I get tested often for heavy metals.
I show all KINDS of terrible stuff, but lead is never on the list.

So I don't know about that one...
Our dishes are white with gold or blue flowery borders.
 
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I would not worry too much unless there is actually a significant amount of lead released.

https://www.awe.gov.au/environment/protection/chemicals-management/lead/lead-in-ceramic-crockery-pottery-making
mentions “quick colour test”.

As someone who has soldered quite a bit (and the old solder contains quite a bit of lead which is released into the air), and handles metallic lead from time to time, intact ceramics are one of the less significant risks for me.
Lead piping would be my biggest concern.
 
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Hi Jen,
Let's not panic! As in.... Let US not panic! Because I have done the exact same thing you have done. And I had never heard this before. So I've spent the last 2 hours looking it up. And I went to Consumer Reports just like John did and saw the same page which only mentions terra cotta and ceramic dishware. I tried to search their site and saw nothing about Corelle or glass dishware. In fact I couldn't find any 'so called' experts mention the subject which is really what I would like to see. So... lots of non-experts are passing around the same (good or bad) information with no technical or scientific research to back it up. I wanna see the science before I panic and so far... Pearl is the most scientific thing I've heard! That's good news.
I never bought ceramic or terra cotta dinnerware because I learned long ago 'from actual experts' that lots of it was contaminated with lead. That is why I only bought Corelle! Because it is glass and it is always MADE IN THE U.S.A.! But I can clearly remember 10-11 years ago I picked up some Corelle from the thrift store (I just have the stuff with the dark gold or blue pattern along the edges) and a few days later I went into Walmart and got some more pieces of the exact same pattern, brand new. So, if it's true that it used to contain some lead years ago but they stopped doing that long ago, the question is... exactly how old are your dishes?
I found a website that might help you figure that out. I will show the links to 2 of their pages. The first page shows all the vintage patterns and the years they were made. It looks like the dishes I have are the 'Butterfly Gold' which they are still making today. Lead free I hope/suspect/wish. See if your patterns are on the page.
https://clickamericana.com/topics/home-garden/vintage-corning-corelle-livingware-expressions-dish-sets
The 2nd page says....that you may be a little worried about the dishes made before 2005 and really worried about the ones made before 1980. I would be surpised if there were still a lot of 40 year old dishes in circulation but you never know. Could still be a lot of 15 year old dishes around. Maybe, maybe not. They also say at the bottom of the page....  NOW SEE THIS: Update your old Corelle patterns with one of these 15 popular, vintage-inspired dinnerware sets – now without lead!  You can click on that too for a different article.
Page 2-
https://clickamericana.com/topics/home-garden/update-old-corelle-patterns-vintage-inspired-new-dinnerware

And, it might make you feel better to have yourselves tested for lead again. Please let us know how it works out. I need to get back to my garden. Bye.
 
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You can buy a very simple lead testing kit to ease your fears.  You can get them on amazon, home depot, etc.  You just rub the swab or stick on the item and if it turns red, then there is lead.  I'd do a test like that before you get rid of them.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Thank you all for your input.  I think I will start with a lead test kit, and go from there.
 
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Debbie Ann wrote:Hi Jen,

The 2nd page says....that you may be a little worried about the dishes made before 2005 and really worried about the ones made before 1980. I would be surpised if there were still a lot of 40 year old dishes in circulation but you never know. Could still be a lot of 15 year old dishes around. Maybe, maybe not.



I don't know how other people treat their dishes--but just about everyone in my extended family is using dishes that are over 40 years old! especially corning wear, but also other stuff. I have one set (not Corelle) that were my great-grandmother's wedding dishes. I'm not sure what year she was married in, but she was born in 1866, so 1880s?
 
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:Choosing to be a stay at home mom, my husband injuring his neck rendering him unable to work, added to the fact I'm just lousy with money.  We have had to do a lot of corner cutting along the way.  The thrift store was my friend.  I got some amazing deals for sometimes even new stuff.  One day they had boxes of Corelle dishes.   They were complete, and I don't remember what I paid, but it is a great deal.  I loved it, tough, thin so it didn't take up a lot of space.  It started a collection, I now have lots of colors and styles, and I love it.  I discovered, recently some are even worth money.  Because of this, I thought it has been harder to find. The other day I got 4 of the small plates, 4 saucers, and 4 bowels for 5.00.  For for I looked up the pattern, to see if I got a deal. I did it was the first pattern made. Then I see an article about Corelle containing lead.  Not just one article, but many, even Corelle saying to use anything made before 2009 as decorative.  I'm so bummed, I love these plates.  We own an old house, so my kids were tested for lead, and it was negative.  But we have been using it for many years.  Now I have to buy new plates, and figure out what to do with the old ones.  Plus I can't seem to figure out if it's ok to use the bowels and cups. The lead is in the color and patterns. The bowls and cups don't have color or pattern on the inside.  I'm sad I have to buy new plates, have to get rid of my happy collection, and mad this information isn't more available.  If anyone knows about the bowels and cups, please let me know. Thanks



Hey Jen, I'm going to throw in my .02 and my experience as a fellow broke momma that's all about thrifting. ;)  

Lead is a real thing.  Especially with old stuff.  My husband and I use to take these lead checking strips and would smear it on paint WAAAAY back in the day before ripping reclaimed wood and cabinets out of old houses to put into out own.  We would use dust masks if there was a lot of paint peeling but didn't if things seemed good.  We also didn't check other things like...brass, copper pipes, etc.  I'm just glad we weren't poisoned and if we were...I'm too dumb to see a difference. ;)  

I'd still get reclaimed materials but I'd insist on us wearing more than a 'dust mask' or bandana and I definitely wouldn't be doing it while nursing or with kids there.  There'd also be some major safe clean up and such of the wood before using it.  Honestly, I don't know if it'd be worth it at all as I don't have super fancy clean up tools and lead needs special stuff now to protect children, adults and the elderly.

I know there is a whole scare factor but that's often something that comes with new things.  Look at cars.  Folks said there was no reason to put seat belts in cars or babies in pumpkin seats and often teased at folks and made claims about they would die in a wreck as they couldn't release the seat belt.  We know better though and we put our babies in carseats that meet the highest safety standards we can afford and we value safety testing.  No one is putting kiddos in pumpkin seats nor does anyone think it's safe to drive the highway holding an infant or child in arms.  

The problem with lead is no one knows how much of it is going to harm a kid.  How much makes one loose a few IQ points vs needing home care, home aids, living a life less than their DNA would have granted them if they hadn't been poisoned.  The other thing is based on what I know and my budget there is no real treatment for lead poisoning.  

I'm also of the mind that if it hurts my kid I don't want it around them.  When I learned about the risks of teflon and aluminum cookware and the damage it does to the mind and the associations it had with early onset dementia I stopped cooking in my skillets and only used the oven or the microwave.  I no longer have a microwave and now only use cast iron cookware, certain stone ware that has been shown to be lead free and glass baking dishes.  If I were to find out my plates and bowls had lead/cadmium I'd use paper plates.  They can be composted or used as firestarters.  

I actually got rid of all mine (aluminum and teflon cookware) and I had been building a set with mushrooms on it which turned out to have lead.  I love mushrooms.  But, having a cute dish set wasn't worth the risk to the kids or our health.  I grow food to be as nutrient rich to nourish their bodies so they can grow strong and healthy.  For me with all the cancer risks that run on my and my husband's family I just couldn't add one more (real or imagined) health strike against the kids.

I'm assuming you're talking about Tamara of Lead Safe Momma who shares about lead and where it often is like in dishes, toys, and books.  I actually know Tamara.  She has had a lot of education over testing and such with the....shoot forget what the tester is called but...  She has a vested interest in spreading the word about lead poisoning as her children were severely poisoned and all of them suffer the effects.  It's a horrible disability for the kids and the family.  Tamar wants to make sure no child ever has to suffer the way her kids have.  It has been her life's work outside of her family.  

As to Corelle they actually sent her an email one day talking about no one should use dishes before 2005 due to the lead.  There is a copy of it on her site where it comes straight from the horses mouth.  There are patterns and years and such that has tested and all the information on her blog shares it.  Not to sound as if I'm tucking my tin foil hat down tight over my ears but...get you a tin foil hat while I spill this tea.  She is legit and has been sued multiple times by old paint companies, various folks in various ....lead based places.  She's keeps fighting and coming out on top.  She helped in Detroit trying to get all the lead based pipes out, she's helped in various schools, homes, etc.

Everyone does the best they can.  I don't like plastic.  I keep it out of my home as much as I can.  I hate toxins be they man or natural made and work to keep them out of our home.  I try to create enough of my own compost, mycorrhiza, nutrients to feed and nourish and grow the soil so my kids and animals are healthy and strong but I bought some fertilizer when I ran out of fish emulsion and nothing else was available during covid.  I knew it wasn't the best but starving was worse.  I nursed the kids cause I believe an individualized formula created on the spot, in my body and for the kiddo I was breastfeeding was better than anything mass produced.  However, if I was struggling and needed medication to make me an attentive and loving mom that interacted with said kiddo but it was labeled as dangerous to kiddos you better believe that I'd have been buying some mass produced formula and loving feeding it to my kiddo while holding them in my arms.  An involved, loving, and attentive mom is better than a nursing mom that does horrible things a few months later due to depression.  There is a place for everything in this world.  

My .02 is weed through and research and educate yourself and make an informed decision based on your comfort, beliefs, wallet and health.  No matter the decision we each make we each are the only ones that will deal with the outcomes of it.  <3

~Honey
 
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I have the white and snowflake blue patterns. (The snowflake ones are one of the original patterns and were only made 1970-1976)

I tested the snowflake pattern when I had my first kid (because I went around the house and tested EVERYTHING, especially things made before 1978, when lead paint was outlawed in the US). All the Corelle ware I have is lead free.

We tried different lead testing kits. The 3M lead tests worked well. Other brands we tried did not pick up lead from known leaded paint from our 1950 house. :S I only buy and trust the 3M ones now. They are more expensive, but I stretch them by testing a few things at once, rubbing only a corner of the swab on each item. The red is pretty bright and distinctive.
57caae66-7b73-4927-b3bf-64169b731803.jpeg
These work!
These work!
 
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:Then I see an article about Corelle containing lead.  Not just one article, but many, even Corelle saying to use anything made before 2009 as decorative.  I'm so bummed, I love these plates.  



I understand the concern.  Reports of the old days of kids eating chips of lead paint are scary.  But if lead was really that deadly emergency room doctors would make every effort to remove lead bullets from gun shot victims.  When I was a Police Officer we were told time and time again that if we were ever shot odds are if the bullet was not in a "dangerous" location they would not try to cause more damage to dig it out, we would just end up continuing life with a bullet in our leg or wherever they deemed it non-dangerous.  With that in mind, if a lead bullet left in the body was not a threat to health I would think the dishes you have been using for years should not be a concern.  After all lead in the body and in contact with your blood would release much more "contamination" than would be absorbed by food on a plate.
I am not a Doctor or a scientist but I did stay at a shabby motel once or twice.  =-)
 
C Lundquist
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Michael Fundaro wrote:

Jen Fulkerson wrote:Then I see an article about Corelle containing lead.  Not just one article, but many, even Corelle saying to use anything made before 2009 as decorative.  I'm so bummed, I love these plates.  



I understand the concern.  Reports of the old days of kids eating chips of lead paint are scary.  But if lead was really that deadly emergency room doctors would make every effort to remove lead bullets from gun shot victims.  When I was a Police Officer we were told time and time again that if we were ever shot odds are if the bullet was not in a "dangerous" location they would not try to cause more damage to dig it out, we would just end up continuing life with a bullet in our leg or wherever they deemed it non-dangerous.  With that in mind, if a lead bullet left in the body was not a threat to health I would think the dishes you have been using for years should not be a concern.  After all lead in the body and in contact with your blood would release much more "contamination" than would be absorbed by food on a plate.
I am not a Doctor or a scientist but I did stay at a shabby motel once or twice.  =-)



The danger of lead is cumulative and long term. The danger of digging a bullet out is immediate and can cause more damage to the body. Just because they don't want to put your life /quality of life at further risk by digging the bullet out, does not mean that leaving the bullet in doesn't pose any risk. It's choosing the lesser of two evils. Also, lead bullets tend to fracture upon impact, so even if they were to dig out the bullet, there would still be a lot of small fragments of lead left in the body. Is risking further bodily damage when you would only recover half the lead anyway worth it? If it were safe and easy to do so, doctors would love to dig all bullets out, and there have been many efforts to remove lead from bullets. Politicians don't always support the best health policies. :shock:

Here's a story about a gunshot survivor with lead poisoning: https://time.com/longform/gun-violence-survivors-lead-poisoning/
 
Anne Miller
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I like the suggestion of the "Lead Testing Kit" that way a person will know if this is something to really worry about.

There are, to me, a lot more important things to worry about.

So taking one off the board seems reasonable.
 
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From my perspective, the hard part is assessing the real-world risk. How much lead could actually leach into food from the very durable decorations on Corelle dinnerware, and under what conditions? Zero, of course, would be ideal; but at what threshhold is there a genuine medical risk? I suggest that can only be assessed in a laboratory; all else is subjective blog talk.

That said, if I had young children, who are much more at risk of damage during their development, I would be considerably more vigilant and err on the side of caution.
 
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After reading this last night, I did a little web searching and found this document:

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/leadtoxicity/biologic_fate.html#:~:text=Most%20inhaled%20lead%20in%20the,ultimately%2C%20in%20the%20feces).

The short answer is that how lead is dealt with by the body is surprisingly dependent on the form of the lead, where it's introduced and your age. This is true to the extent, that reading that document raised more concerns in my mind.

So kids are *much* more susceptible than adults, and airborne particles and ingested particles are much greater risk factors than some other forms.

My Husband significantly researched Tamara's claims about Corel and lead in general when I brought her site to his attention. We had elderly corel, but neither my kids, nor I have ever had symptoms of lead poisoning. However, I rarely reheated food directly on those plates, tended to use the "luncheon" sized plates we had which are plain white and not considered a risk, for the children and often myself. However, one of the biggest risks was the dark-green paint on the large mixing bowls. We ditched them immediately as I had a set of stainless ones with our camping gear - not as nice, but perfectly adequate! Hubby decided the research was sufficiently convincing that we ended up ditching all our "elderly patterned" corel and replacing it all with plain white.

His research suggests that the lead tester pictured above work on paint, but the results are not completely trustworthy on "not paint". Tamara was also very concerned about the lead content in "galvanized" or "zinc plated" items. Geologically speaking, zinc and lead hang together. A little lead in with the zinc makes galvanizing work better. Stainless is a wonderful, but expensive, alternative, and may be more damaging to the environment during production - it again gets *really* complicated. I'm not convinced that the lead testers would give a good read on galvanized metal. In my climate, galvanized fencing is everywhere and hard to avoid. That said, I've got chickens and ducks that are exposed to some of it that you would think would show symptoms if anyone would, and they're fine. This makes me think that we got "lucky" when we bought that quality used fencing.

Be aware that if you test "A" for lead - and it tests positive - that still may not be the source of your poisoning. Based on the link above - make sure you haven't just identified a "potential small source" rather than the "big important source" - like the water you drink and the food you eat! Lead pipes and copper pipes that were soldered poorly with lead-based solders are more likely to give you lead poisoning symptoms than white plates with some colour on the rim.


 
Honey Rowland
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Jay Angler wrote:
Be aware that if you test "A" for lead - and it tests positive - that still may not be the source of your poisoning. Based on the link above - make sure you haven't just identified a "potential small source" rather than the "big important source" - like the water you drink and the food you eat! Lead pipes and copper pipes that were soldered poorly with lead-based solders are more likely to give you lead poisoning symptoms than white plates with some colour on the rim.



THIS!!!  This is SOO important.  So many folks have no clue how much lead is in their drinking water.

I have old books I've been collecting for a long time.  2 years ago I discovered old books have lead.  The info in these books are....not affordably obtained and I'm working to convert the info into a safer use for us.  I removed them from the house and if I need to use them I take them outside and try to put the wind at my back, blowing away from folks.  

I've used galvanized fencing for a LONG time.  It's my only affordable option.  I don't grow food in, on or around it and I work to keep the grass and weeds trimmed around it so animals don't graze around it to lesson their accumulation and as such our accumulation.  I'd prefer to have lovely safe wood fencing but...yeah.  Affordability, accessibility and the county sue-ability is all an issue.  lol.  

I don't use galvanized metal containers for food or water.  I'm currently still using the thick black animal bowls though as I haven't been able to find a safe, affordable and doesn't become broken by pigs, animals or human oops alternative yet and would love any tips or advice if anyone has any.

Also, just a tip...if you check paint on dishes and it isn't showing up on the testers it doesn't necessarily mean it's lead free.  If you're displaying and not using I dont' see much worry, but when they're used and things start wearing...test again as you can't see it is wearing.  Also, wash your hands after handling display pieces as you can spread the lead dust and if you have a sensitive person that eats or drinks or breathes that in they could have issues.

I wish we could get pyrex and corelle to bring back all those cute old patterns minus the lead.  I'd love to have those mushrooms.
 
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C Lundquist wrote:I have the white and snowflake blue patterns. (The snowflake ones are one of the original patterns and were only made 1970-1976)

I tested the snowflake pattern when I had my first kid (because I went around the house and tested EVERYTHING, especially things made before 1978, when lead paint was outlawed in the US). All the Corelle ware I have is lead free.

We tried different lead testing kits. The 3M lead tests worked well. Other brands we tried did not pick up lead from known leaded paint from our 1950 house. :S I only buy and trust the 3M ones now. They are more expensive, but I stretch them by testing a few things at once, rubbing only a corner of the swab on each item. The red is pretty bright and distinctive.



I am so glad I'm not the only one that tests things.

Something I learned from a pottery making person (the kind like the Ghost scene) back when I was pregnant with my 2nd was that depending on how pottery is fired can make it hard to use the liquid lead test kits.  She said if I have to use something I"m unsure of to make sure I never put tomatoes/anything that was acidic as it can leach the lead and concerning stoneware it all had traces of lead as clay naturally contains lead.  She also recommended I not use some Mexican stonewares I had as clay deposits in Central America had higher lead contents.  
 
C Lundquist
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Jay Angler wrote:His research suggests that the lead tester pictured above work on paint, but the results are not completely trustworthy on "not paint".


FWIW I have used those testers on metal items (vintage alloy toys and tools) that have tested positive. In fact, compared to the testers that turn black when positive, they seemed to work better - the black ones didn't turn obviously positive, and it was harder to tell if they were positive because metal tends to rub off as gray anyway. The red testers turned red and it was clearly positive.

I can believe that glazes might not test positive as reliably - the glass in the glaze probably protects some of the lead from the elements. (And that's also probably why glazed pottery is sometimes not as dangerous either - if the lead is sealed inside it can't hurt you)
 
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We use glass pie plates as dishes.
They cost a dollar or two each at the thrift stores.

I used to use the ceramic crocks out of  slow cookers to bake bread in.
There were some reports of lead in the glazes.
I've switched to stainless steel hotel pans.


My house is almost 100 years old.
Lead paint is my nemesis, outside as well as in.
We live with the mistakes of the past.
 
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So much great input, but I still feel out to sea.  My plan was to order a lead test kit. Reading the reviews, I'm not entirely sure it will work on plates.  Part of me thinks, no children in the house, my youngest is 22.  No one is showing signs of lead poison, it's probably fine.  On the other hand they are just plates. I would never forgive myself if someone I loved became I'll because I knowingly kept plates with lead decoration.  So as sad as it makes me I think I will get new plates.  I need to make myself a place in the barn for all my garden stuff, I'm tired of never being able to find what I know I have.  Maybe on one of the walls I will hang one of each of the plates.  It's an old drafty barn, I would think almost 0 chance of causing harm, but I can still enjoy them. Then I don't have to trash them, or pass the problem on to others at the thrift store.
I will go on further. I wish Corelle would remake there dishes and offer a special deal for those who have poison plates.
 
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My ex husband used to flip storage units. Once he brought home a bunch of semi round metal beads, perfect for pie weights. I made pies for 2 weeks. Then my father in law came over, and informed me I was using lead fishing weights............
 
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In reply to the OP,  lead is a naturally occurring element.  In in this country we can expect to find 10 to 50 mg of lead per kg of garden soil (Per Penn State).  I suspect that anyone who has pulled a radish out of the ground, brushed it off, and eaten it has taken in far more lead than they are likely to take in off a plate.   My dishes are Franciscan Desert Rose that I picked up in junk shops.   I am confident that lead is present somewhere in my dishes.  I am also confident that I have taken in far less lead during the 40 years I have been eating off of them than I did from that radish I ate out of my garden today. Of course I would like to have minimal lead intake, but lead is naturally present as a trace element in the human body.   It is difficult for me not to encounter it.
 
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I went ahead and ordered some new Corelle plates.  I have a white one and one edged in red that are safe . All my other plates are pre 2009.  My kids keep putting them back in the cupboard.  There response is they haven't made us sick yet. Maybe not, but why take a chance?  I need to put them in a box and take them out to the barn.  Time to move on.
Thank you all for your great information. You were very helpful.  
 
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