Greensboro, NC -- Lead can cause a host of problems in both kids and adults. With the help of the Guilford County Health Department, we checked people's dinnerware, every day plates they use in their homes and the results alarmed even us.
Like every new mom, Liz Sedgwick wants to make sure her baby is safe.
"We've been looking at childproofing and looking at some of the potential contaminates in the house and things like that trying to just be really aware."
But, she never thought to look at her plates which were passed down by her great aunt. Many of Liz's plates tested positive for lead. And she isn't alone.
It's the same situation at Livi Shepherd-Gray's house.
"We've only had those plates for about two years. So, that's pretty scary that modern day plates have lead in them," says Livi.
And at Wendy Gaither's house.
"It's scary to think I was using these dishes and they contained lead."
Plate after plate after plate tests positive for lead. More than 40% of the plates we tested showed a significant level of lead. And it's not necessarily the paint or glaze, but the plate itself.
"I was a little surprised. I was especially for the ones that are a little newer. I would have hoped they had gotten rid of it or taken it out of surplus," says Paula Cox of the Guilford County Health Department.
With one plate a mom had a hand in making, she didn't know lead was part of the recipe.
"I was astounded that 40 percent of plates tested positive for lead. That really actually upsets me and makes me think what's the deal here, why aren't people doing something about this?" says Dr. John Spangler, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Lead in plates bothers Dr. Spangler so much because he knows lead can cause severe developmental problems in kids.
"There is no safe level of lead. Lead is without any biological value and to the extent we can get rid of it in our environment, we should. As a parent that makes me very concerned, and makes me want to go test my own plates. I would like to know the brands that are lead free so I can buy those."
Our moms plan to take action to make sure they and their families are safe.
"If there is lead in it, we're going to have to buy new plates and bowls. We'll relegate those to the closet I guess," says Liz.
Right now, the best way to check if you have a lead problem is a simple blood test. It's just a finger prick. The health department will do it for free for kids under six.
Unfortunately at this point, there is not a reliable way for parents to test their plates at home. The Consumer Safety Protection Commission says the home testing kids are unreliable.
One state has led the way on lead. In 1986, California voters passed a proposition that says the state must update every year dangerous or toxic substances to a list. Lead was added in 2001.
Now you can search the Internet for companies that make lead free plates. We have actually contacted one major dinnerware manufacturer and the company says all its dinnerware complies with California's proposition, so none of it has lead.
The Guilford County Health Department has important information on lead poisoning as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WFMY News 2