Document Type

Thesis

Publication Year

1980

Abstract

Lead glazed vessels could be the source of poisoning for rural Mexicans. The degree of poisoning depends on the amount of lead released from the handcrafted ware and on how much lead is then ingested with food or beverages. The posioning is subtle, and the people may not recognize the connection between the disease and the source. Therefore, education and technological changes are necessary to reduce the risk of lead poisoning.

I investigated the problem of lead release from Mexican earthenware from several approaches. First, the ceramic materials and methods involved in pottery making in central Mexico were studied. Second, I discussed the problem with some persons who live in a pottery producing area, Michoacan, to understand their attitudes toward lead glazes and poisoning. Third, chemical analysis was performed on pots collected in the region and produced by similar means.

I have reached four conclusions concerning the problem of lead release. First, Mexican earthenware does release unsafe amounts of lead. Second, the potters and consumers of such ware risk at least insidious poisoning from the production and usage of the pottery. Third, these persons are not aware, however, of the disease or the probably source. Fourth, technological changes would be accepted if they prove to be economically feasible for rural pottery making.

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