Proposal for Analyzing Dinnerware for Lead Leaching

In this assignment you will research methods for measuring the lead content of aqueous solutions, select a method appropriate for the equipment we have in the laboratory and write a proposal requesting approval of your method. Members of the class and the instructor will review the proposals and select one or more of the methods for use in the laboratory.


During the depression years of the 1930s, a number of pottery companies began manufacturing inexpensive dinnerware. The most famous of these was Fiesta Ware produced by the Homer Laughlin Company of West Virginia which produced pieces in red, blue, green, yellow and ivory. Fiesta Ware is highly collectable (Andy Warhol was a famous collector). A number of California potteries produced similar products. The picture below shows our collection of plates and bowls manufactured by California Pottery and H. A. Bauer Pottery Company. These pieces have an interesting characteristic. They are radioactive because glazes prepared from uranium ore were used to impart color to the pottery. In a Nuclear Regulatory Commission document entitled "Environmental Assessment of Consumer Products Containing Radioactive Material", it is estimated that a single plate might have contained as much as 14.5 grams of uranium. Uranium is a radionuclide that decomposes through a series of alpha and beta emissions until it reaches a stable isotope. For U-238 the stable isotope is Pb-206. A sample of uranium ore will contain all of the members of the decay series including the final product Pb-206. Therefore, our pottery items are not only radioactive but also contain lead that can be mobilized from the glaze in acidic solution.



You are going to conduct a literature search to find methods for analyzing lead content in aqueous solution. An internet search is not sufficient. You will need to search for journal articles and or established protocols for conducting aqueous lead analysis. You should use periodical databases and/or the on-line Chemical Abstracts for this literature search.


After doing your literature search, you will choose a method that you think is appropriate for analyzing the amount of lead leached into a vinegar solution that has been in the bowl for approximately 24 hours. The proposal is to be typed.

The introduction to your proposal should include information about the pottery, why it would contain leacheable lead, and permissible safe levels of lead. You will need to have sections that provide a literature review of lead analysis methods, details of the analysis that you are proposing for use, and a listing of materials and instrumentation (if an instrumental procedure) needed. You need to include footnotes for all sources following the style outlined in The ACS Style Guide which can be found in the Hamersly Library or borrowed from the instructor.


Click here to access information on proposal writing.

A copy of the proposal coversheet can be obtained here.

You can print copies of the scoring rubric for this proposal assignment here.