Why Lead In Plastics And Other Answers
Why is there lead in plastics?
It softens the plastic and makes it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape. It may also be used in plastic toys to stabilize molecules from heat. When the plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air, and detergents the chemical bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms a dust.
When you heat plastic in a microwave, it releases its chemical components into your food. Depending on what kind of plastic it is, this could mean the hormone disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA), or the nefarious chemicals that make thin PVC (vinyl) film flexible.
If something is stamped microwave-safe that just means how hot the material can get before it loses its shape, not that it won't leach chemicals into your dinner, though those levels are supposed to be low. There is no government agency charged with verifying or certifying that these safe plastics are actually safe for microwaves. There's also no government agency making sure everything stamped BPA-free is actually free of BPA.
This can be scary. To be safe and avoid confusion, adopt a no plastic in the microwave policy. This is a simple way to avoid allowing questionable chemicals to get into your food. Glass is as safe as it gets. Lead-free ceramic works as well. Using either also reduces the resource drain and waste associated with plastic.
Can I use plastic wrap in the microwave?
The health concern associated with plastic wrap is that the food may absorb some of the plasticizer (which is the chemical that makes the wrap flexible). This is mostly a concern when the wrap is heated to a high temperature or when used with fatty or oily foods.
How does lead content improve glass quality?
The content of lead (in the form of lead oxide) determines optical properties of glass. High lead content in crystal glass means increased refraction properties of prisms. Perfect cut and polishing further increases refraction.
Can the lead in lead crystal harm you?
Lead crystal will supposedly not harm you. The only way that the lead in crystal can affect its contents is if you are storing alcohol in lead crystal decanters for an extended period of time. Although there have not been a large number of health issues relating to the lead in crystal, companies and manufacturers do recommend that you only keep alcohol in lead crystal decanters for up to 3 months. I personally suggest that you don't store anything that is food in a container that has lead in it.
What is the difference between glass and lead crystal?
Glass is an organic substance consisting of a mixture of silicates, barates or phosphates that cools to a rigid condition without crystallization. (It can be made of quartz-sand, lime, soda, potash and lead oxide.) Crystal falls into the 3 main categories. Fine Crystal or Crystalline is made from a glass mixture that contains 6% - 10% lead oxide. Lead Crystal is made from a glass mixture that contains 10% - 24% lead oxide and Full Lead Crystal is made from a glass mixture that contains 24% lead oxide or more. For the most part, crystal by European standards regards 24% lead bearing glass as crystal. However, by American standards, any glass that is perfectly clear is considered crystal regardless of the lead content. Lead oxide in crystal gives the product clarity and sparkle. Any crystal that is hand-cut usually must be 24% lead oxide or over - otherwise the crystal would be too brittle and would break when cut or engraved.