Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Identification of Lead Poisoning: A routine blood lead screening of a child in 2017 led to the discovery of lead poisoning in a family of five in NYC, with blood lead levels ranging from 5 to 53 µg/dL in November 2020.
  2. Source of Exposure: The elevated blood lead levels were linked to the family’s use of traditional, glazed ceramic ware purchased in Mexico, used for cooking, storing meals, and making coffee.
  3. Intervention and Results: After intervention by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), the family stopped using the ceramic ware, resulting in a decrease in blood lead levels to 1–6 µg/dL over 14–16 months.
  4. Risk Factors and Lack of Cooperation: Despite the family’s decline of a home inspection, potential additional sources of lead exposure included use of Mexican spices and household renovation activities. Their primary exposure was conclusively linked to the ceramic ware.
  5. Public Health Implications: The case underscores the need for global awareness and control measures against lead use in ceramic ware, highlighting the importance of blood lead testing and risk assessment for entire households.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Paromita Hore,

Suggested Citation

Hore P, Alex-Oni K, Bardhi N, Sedlar S. Notes from the Field: Lead Poisoning in a Family of Five Resulting from Use of Traditional Glazed Ceramic Ware — New York City, 2017–2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:743–744. DOI: .


The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) identified a family of five with elevated blood lead levels due to the use of traditional glazed ceramic ware. Despite initial resistance to home inspections and other interventions, DOHMH’s guidance led to a significant reduction in the family’s blood lead levels after they ceased using the ceramic ware.


DOHMH conducted blood lead screenings and follow-up risk assessment interviews, revealing the use of high-lead ceramic ware. Despite the family’s refusal for home inspections, the investigation focused on their reported use of specific ceramics and lifestyle factors.


This case emphasizes the dangers of lead exposure from traditional ceramic ware, the importance of comprehensive blood lead testing for families, and the challenges in mitigating exposure without full cooperation from affected individuals.


The investigation highlights the critical role of public health departments in identifying and mitigating lead exposure risks, advocating for global action to eliminate lead use in ceramics, and the effectiveness of targeted interventions in reducing blood lead levels.

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