Dear Ikea, Thanks for the Poison

[Note, 2017: nearly 7 years after writing this post, it is still the most visited post on my blog…and in recent weeks, Tacoma has ‘discovered’ a slew of lean-tainted water supplies in homes around the area we lived, as well as some schools. So please, do consider testing if you are concerned, and check out the tests I’ve listed at the bottom of the post.]

Ikea…you are loved all around the world for your stylish yet simplistic, space-saving furniture and decor. But perhaps not so much for your social media presence or apparently your spam filtering. You see, I sent an Executive Email Carpet Bomb to your executives a month ago explaining our lead situation and how Ikea figured into being a part of it. Thus far, no response and no bounce-backs….so, I’m posting the main part of the email here. [Backstory of the lead issues here–start from the bottom]

For the purposes of background, our family was recently doing work on our older home when we discovered lead. We then stopped work and contacted various federal, state, and local agencies until we found out how to deal with it properly. We are now in the midst of some in-depth testing as part of a local (but state-funded) lead program that will either abate or encapsulate the lead. We’ve also all been tested, and we’ve all had some exposure, but all except out infant are low enough not to be too much of a concern. But our infant’s level was high enough to be a concern for the State, which is re-writing the City’s contract for this program to be able to release additional funds to help us.

This morning the City had a professional lead-testing evaluation done of the house, both inside and out . The testing used was an XRF (x-ray fluorescence). In the course of that, because of past concerns with glazing on some ceramic products—and as of late from China, samples of our dishes were also tested.

Which brings me to the purpose of this email: the only dishes that tested positive for lead were some we bought from the Seattle Ikea a few years ago. I do not believe it is a named set—they are very plain, non-descript white dishes—dinner plates, pasta bowls, and small saucers/dessert plates—that were in (for lack of better description) à la carte with only “China” stamped on the bottom (we’d gotten 8 of each, though we’re now down to 7 of each I believe). Sample of each of the three dishes all tested at 1 mg/cm2.

I’ve read that Ikea has gone to lengths to ensure that their dishes are lead-free, so I’m unsure if that was just in the last few years or if these dishes slipped through somehow, but the tester and the City’s inspector relayed what we’d already decided, which is to immediately cease from using these dishes and get them out of the house. And obviously at the level they tested at, they were at least part of the lead exposure of our family.

What kind of resolution do we seek? Assuming the Swedish do not possess some sort of magic wand that can just make the lead and our exposure just go away (never hurts to ask, right?), this is a difficult one for me to answer. We obviously wanted to inform Ikea, and we’d hope to have our dishes replaced. Beyond that, I’d really have to leave to you to determine what might be reasonable and discuss. We love Ikea, and frankly don’t believe this warrants the time or cost for any legal action or negative PR that would be associated with it.

I’ve included our contact information below if there are any additional questions or you wish to discuss. Thank you for your time and attention…[obviously not posting the contact info here]


Lead Testing Kit on Amazon (for surfaces)

3m test

or a more comprehensive
Lead in Paint, Dust, and Soil Sample Test Kit

lead test

or an even MORE comprehensive test, including heavy metals
Toxic Element Exposure Home Hair Testing Kit
hair test



[Note, 2017: nearly 7 years after writing this post, it is still the most visited post on my blog…and in recent weeks, Tacoma has ‘discovered’ a slew of lean-tainted water supplies in homes around the area we lived, as well as some schools. So please, do consider testing if you are concerned, and check out…


  1. A month and no response huh? That's pretty bad PR – have you contacted the local store management for replacement dishes and/or store credit?

  2. Hi Scott,

    Did you ever get any feedback from Ikea? Do you have any photos of the plates.

    I have some similar white plates. They are strange because every time you scrape them with cutlery there is a grey line left. Are these the same ones you have?



    1. No, never heard back. We'd packed up those plates and disposed of them…then left that house shortly thereafter.

    2. Hi Craig,

      What did you find out. My IKEA plates are like you describe 🙁

      Best regards,

  3. We are Concerned! We have lead poisoning and we are trying to find out where the lead exposure is coming from. It could be the same plates…where can I get them tested?

  4. Best thing to do is to buy ‘Lead Check Swabs’….Google it. They are the best.
    I no longer trust what any of these companies say (apart from a few), and the lead test, although good, is not always 100%. I’ve decided to eliminate ALL my white dish wear, and start again with ‘Duralex’ Glass Dishware. It’s French, the finest quality, and completely inert. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I opt for safety over looks!

  5. Repost with some new thoughts – I have spent the last month researching all of this. I went to the Ikea web sight and they only mention that their glassware has been lead and cadmium free. There is NO mention of their dish ware. I have a lot of plain white Ikea dish ware, including the 365 line. I also have white dishes from 'Crate and Barrel' as well as 'Strawberry Street'. I was at Ikea here in Switzerland a few backs and I asked again. They said that their dish ware is Lead and Cadium Free, however, nowhere does it say that. Interestingly enough, on the opposite side of the store, where the glassware is, there is a sign on the wall which says that all of their 'Glassware' is free of Lead and Cadmium. It seems to me that if it were true for the dishes as well, there would be a sign on the wall as well – but there isn't. In any event, I have decided to eliminate ALL my white glazed dish ware, because I no longer trust anybody!! I was about to opt for 'Duralex', as I mention in the comment above……however, I learned that Duralex contains, 'Barium Oxide', which has now replaced the 'lead'. There are concerns about Barium Oxide as well – many people consider it toxic. So after further research, I have found that the ONLY company, (apart from companies that make recycled glassware), that makes 'safe' glassware, is 'Luminarc'…..Also goes by the name of 'Arc'….Their products are free of Lead, Cadmium, and Barium Oxide…so I have decided to go with them. They are made in France…(Arc International), and also own Pyrex, which is completely inert.

  6. JoanD – Luminarc (Arc) Glass dishware and Pyrex are the only safe products on the market…free of all three poisons!! By the way, Luminarc and Pyrex are jointly owned.

    For oven cooking or stove top cooking, apparently the best and safest choice is Le Creuset. It is completely inert! 🙂

  7. I just looked at a Luminaric catelog, and most of their products are not marked lead or cadmium free (although some are). I didn't see any mention of Barium Oxide.

  8. Pyrex glass is lead free, but the red writing on the outside of their measuring cups us LOADED with it.

  9. I found glass plates on amazon the brand is Bormioli Rocco and I think these seem pretty safe since they are all glass. Hopefully they dont use the barium oxide.

  10. Thanks for this post. we too have ikea 365 dinnerware purchased in 2005. my daughter has tested high for various metal exposure. I’m sure our ikea plates are on the way out

  11. Not trying to be contrarian…but one of the main reasons why big companies will NOT reply to this kind of request is that it is, literally and legally, hearsay. That is, an unsubstantiated claim about what a third party said, with no supporting documentation… that’s what hearsay is in a legal sense (and it’s definitely inadmissible in a courtroom). You’d need some kind of verification from the city inspector… a document or whatever saying what levels of Pb were found on your dishes or whatever… to substantitate your claim. Otherwise it is literally just an allegation, like “hey Ikea, so-and-so says this about my dishes, so what are you going to do about it?” Not trying to be difficult… just informative. KEVIN