Is It Safe to Eat off of Uranium Glass?

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Uranium is a reactive chemical that is naturally radioactive. That said, it doesn’t stop manufacturers from using it to create beautiful glassware. So is it safe to eat off uranium glass?

Uranium glass is safe to eat off of, for the most part, as it isn’t as reactive as other chemicals. But uranium glassware can pose a health risk if the glass becomes damaged. Monitor your uranium glassware closely, and refrain from eating off of any pieces which get chipped or scratched.

While it can be sad to throw away your nice glassware, it really is better for your health. Let’s look at all of the information about the safety of consuming food and drink from uranium glass.

What Is Uranium?

Uranium Glass Teacup

Uranium is a naturally occurring element. It is radioactive, which makes people fearful of having it in their homes. However, it is relatively safe and poses little danger. 

It was discovered in 1789, and the first uranium ceramic piece was born in 1831, confirming its safety through its use over the past 190 years. The radiation level in uranium is often too low to cause any health issues. Yes, there is some aspect of danger if uranium is consumed, but most places process uranium so that it is safe for human use.

How Can Uranium Be Used?

Uranium is most commonly used as fuel. It is popular for electricity generation thanks to its radioactive elements. However, it is also a coloring agent for glassware and ceramics. Uranium in glassware is used to color the glass, like this (on Amazon).

Is Uranium Glass Toxic to Humans? 

Uranium in glass is used as a coloring agent. It isn’t toxic to humans if used safely. The United States Environmental Protection Agency confirms that uranium is safe for human use as long as the glassware is undamaged.

Uranium cannot be rubbed off of glass, so it is safe to use for regular use when undamaged. If uranium glassware breaks, however, then it is best to dispose of it. Consuming the uranium directly from the coloring agent product could be dangerous to your health. 

Is Uranium Glass Legal?

Although the United States removed all uranium supplies in the 1940s, they have slowly returned to the market. They were not available throughout the wars to ensure minimum radioactive danger. 

In the 1990s, any radionuclide products were stopped, including uranium. Yet, it is still allowed to be sold on the market again today as long as the products sold do not contain more than 10% of the uranium in weight.

All uranium glassware publically sold that uses the correct amount of the radioactive element will be safe for human use. That being said, be cautious of secondary markets where it is possible for old heirlooms or dishes from another country to be sold which contain more than 10% uranium.

What Happens if You Eat off Uranium Glass?

Nothing will happen if you eat off uranium glass. It is safe to drink from uranium glassware too. Hot and cold drinks will not affect the safety of the mug, glass, or cup you use. In general, you will be safe using uranium glassware when eating or drinking. 

The only time uranium glass will be dangerous to eat from or use is if it breaks or contains a high volume of uranium. 

If you eat from damaged uranium glass, uranium poisoning is possible. Therefore, ensure to dispose of broken uranium glass and avoid using it for dinner. We also recommend only serving on uranium glass. If you need a dish to put in the microwave or oven, it is best to use one which doesn’t contain uranium.

Symptoms of Uranium Poisoning

Anyone that experiences uranium poisoning may experience the following:

  • Stomach bleeding
  • Nervous system issues
  • Thyroid issues
  • Loss of bone formation
  • An upset stomach

Most uranium poisoning symptoms don’t occur immediately but rather after a few months. Hence, you will not recognize that you have been poisoned by the radioactive element until it is serious. Some symptoms, though, can occur within a few hours, mainly an upset stomach or stomach bleeding. 

Overall, it is rare for a person to experience hospitalization or fatality due to eating off of broken uranium glass, but it can damage your long-term health and lead to serious conditions like cancer. It is always best to dispose of uranium glassware whenever you suspect it is damaged in any form.

Can Uranium Glass Hurt You?

Wild berries in a uranium glass container

If you use uranium glass with 2% or less uranium, it will not be able to harm you. However, some products use up to 25% of uranium to achieve a certain color effect. Glassware with a higher volume of uranium could pose a danger to your health. 

It is impossible to rub uranium off the glass, so it can only pose a threat if the glass is broken or tampered with and somehow comes in contact with your digestive system.

Do note, however, that your hands could be vulnerable to beta-ray exposure if the volume of uranium is too high in a product. Therefore, always check the manufacturer’s label and purchase uranium glassware only from an official source that affirms that their product contains a minimal amount of the radioactive element.

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