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Decorated drinking glasses look really pretty on the outside, but you'll be shocked to know that these pretty things can mess up your health. A recent study shows that enamelled drinking glasses and popular merchandise can contain toxic levels of lead and cadmium.

Researchers at the University of Plymouth carried out 197 tests on 72 new and second-hand drinking glass products which included tumblers, beer and wine glasses, and jars.

The study showed that lead was present in 139 cases and cadmium in 134. It was found on the surface of the glasses as well as on the rims. The concentration of lead was sometimes more than 1,000 times higher than the safe limit.

It was seen that flakes of paint came off from the glass due to regular use. Dr Andrew Turner, who led the research. said: "The presence of hazardous elements in both the paint and glaze of decorated glassware has obvious implications for both human health and the environment."

The study, published in Science of the Total Environment analysed a range of glassware using portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry. It was found that over 70 percent of the products (52 out of 72) tested positive for lead and (51 out of 72) tested positive for cadmium.

He further added: "It was a real surprise to find such high levels of lead and cadmium, both on the outside of the glassware and around the rim. There are genuine health risks posed through ingesting such substances over a prolonged period, so this is clearly an issue that the international glassware industry needs to take action on as a matter of urgency."

"Given that safer alternatives are available to the industry, the overall results of this study are both surprising and concerning," Dr Turner mentioned.

According to the study, the lead concentrations ranged from about 40 to 400,000 parts per million (ppm) and quantities of cadmium ranged from about 300 to 70,000 ppm.

The limit levels for the externally decorated rim of drinking glass are 200 ppm and 800 ppm respectively, as mentioned by the US Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.