Lead exposure from routine consumption of coffee and tea from ceramic mugs

Lead exposure from routine consumption of coffee and tea from ceramic mugs



Lead (Pb) is a pervasive metal that can be found in, and potentially leached from, ceramics, particularly into acidic foods and beverages. The purpose of this study was to investigate potential lead exposure from coffee and tea consumption, given that both are acidic and routinely consumed from ceramic mugs. We measured the concentration of lead in coffee and tea at two different time points brewed in five readily available mugs known to contain lead. Results were compared to EPA’s action level for drinking water and FDA’s allowable level for bottled water. The measured concentrations, along with consumption patterns, were also used to calculate potential daily lead doses, which were compared to California’s Safe Harbor Levels under Proposition 65. Additionally, we estimated changes in adult and fetal blood lead levels using EPA’s Adult Lead Methodology model.


The results of this pilot study suggest that lead in ceramic mugs can leach into coffee and tea. The measured lead concentrations ranged from 0.2 to 8.6 μg/L in coffee, and from <0.2 to 1.6 μg/L

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