Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators supports responsible efforts to assure
that glass and ceramic products do not pose health problems or harm the
In October 2007, the Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators
(SGCD) released an updated white paper entitled “Lead and Other Heavy Metals:
Where Does the Decorating Industry Stand?” In producing the myriad styles of
decorative glass and ceramic items, decorators traditionally have used a
variety of substances to finish the product, add necessary glazes and achieve
the desired color spectrum. Among these substances are certain metals, such as
In recent years, much has been said about the use of heavy metals, including
lead, in a broad range of products. The subject emerges from time to time in
the mainstream media in reports on laws and regulations that impact the use of
lead in glass and ceramic products. Certain media elements have also attempted,
on occasion, to “sensationalize” reports of lead in consumer products. Some
groups, particularly those lacking knowledge of all of the facts, unnecessarily
alarm the public.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes result in confusion for those who purchase
such items. Some individuals believe certain requirements apply to particular
items when they do not apply, or that everything must be “bad” if the product
includes any lead at all. In fact, there are no known cases of commercially
produced glass and ceramic ware purchased in the U.S. making anyone sick.
The SGCD’s goal for the white paper is to provide, in a concise and
understandable manner, the current status of various laws and regulations
concerning heavy metals, such as lead, that impact decorated glass and ceramic
ware. The full text of the white paper, available for SGCD members only,
includes additional background information and details regarding current Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) standards for ceramic foodware, lip and rim area,
and purely decorative ware; the Environmental Protection Agency’s toxic release
inventory reporting; state packaging legislation; state statutes, including
California Proposition 65; ware produced in China; and test procedures and
The SGCD will continue to support all responsible efforts to
assure that glass and ceramic products do not pose health problems or harm the
environment. In fact, glass and ceramic products enjoy a number of advantages
over other products in the environmental context. As many consumers have recognized,
a ceramic mug, dinner plate or glass tumbler can be reused thousands of times
over a number of years. When compared to plastic cups or Styrofoam containers
that are discarded after a single use, it is easy to see that glass and ceramic
products reduce the amount of waste material.
In addition, many glass items can be
recycled. This is especially true of glass containers that are often recycled
to produce new glass products. As glass packaging thrown away by consumers is
increasingly collected in many communities, more and more glass can be
recycled. Glass has become a renewable resource, and we should stress this
feature and encourage the use of glass.
As with most controversial situations, it is
important that hasty proposals to correct imaginary or misunderstood “problems”
not be given the force of law. Possible substitute materials must be evaluated
to determine whether or not they will present unsafe situations. Banning some
products might mean the increased use of others that present their own health
or environmental problems. For these reasons, careful consideration of all
proposals is necessary.
For years, the SGCD has worked with the FDA
and other federal agencies, as well as state governments and Congress, to
develop responsible standards. We actively encourage compliance among all
segments of the industry.
For more information regarding
heavy metal limits, contact the SGCD Public Affairs Office at 1444 I St., NW,
Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005; (703) 838-2810; fax (202) 216-9646; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.sgcd.org.