“Karen, we have some beautiful lead crystal glasses that we were given as a wedding present years ago. We usually take them out and use them on our anniversary, but is drinking wine out of lead crystal glasses dangerous?” —Jessica N. (Kansas City, Missouri)

Jessica, the way you do it, probably not. Most lead crystal glasses are between 18% and 24% lead oxide. Lead makes glass more brilliant and durable and adding lead oxide to molten glass makes it softer and easier to cut into elegant designs. In 1991, researchers at Columbia University found that acidic beverages (including wine) left in lead crystal decanters for several months absorbed some of that lead. The key words here are for several months. There is no evidence that lead can be leached from a wine glass within a few hours or even days, and thus drinking wine from lead crystal wine glasses is considered safe.

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