Collecting vintage glass is a hobby that many people enjoy, and finding a particular vintage piece can be very exciting. But some types of vintage glass have been shown to contain dangerous toxicants, so it is important to be aware of the dangerous materials contained in certain types of glass. Hazel-Atlas glass is one company whose glass has been discovered to be quite toxic.
Some Hazel-Atlas glass products are dangerous and have been tested and shown to contain high levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, and other types of metallic toxicants. These toxicants can cause cancer and must be handled by consumers with great caution, as they are toxic to the touch.
This doesn’t mean you can’t go on collecting vintage glass or that these types of glass hold no value. As long as you handle the glass with extreme care, you can go on adding Hazel-Atlas glass pieces to your your vintage glass collection.
Is Hazel-Atlas Glass Toxic?
According to Tamara Rubin, an internationally known and award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety and childhood lead-poisoning prevention, it is important to be aware of the potentially dangerous substances that are contained in the products you use on a daily basis.
Rubin has tested many products from different companies to assess their consumer safety, and has been doing so since 2009. She is recently known for discovering lead in the popular fidget spinner children’s toy in 2017.
Rubin has tested certain products from Hazel-Atlas glass and found some to contain unsafe levels of metallic toxicants. One vintage orange mug was discovered to contain high levels of lead, cadmium, and mercury. She encouraged consumers to never consume food or drink from this type of glass, and to even avoid touching it since she found it to be toxic by the touch.
What is Depression Glass, and is it Safe?
Hazel-Atlas in its heyday was the largest glassware company in the world. Surprisingly, it actually grew during the Great Depression. Hazel-Atlas made a significant amount of depression glass from the 1920s to the 1940s, which was a low-cost clear or translucent colored machine-made glass.
It is generally known that most depression glass is not safe to eat or drink out of since it may contain unsafe levels of uranium, lead, arsenic, or other types of harmful toxicants. The home and kitchenware that contain traces of these toxicants were produced during a time when the standards of health were much lower and not as much was known about how dangerous these substances could be to humans.
The standards are different and much more strict nowadays, and substances like uranium are now banned in glass making. Although it’s thankfully no longer necessary for us to worry about these harmful toxicants being found in modern glass products that are produced today, it is important to be aware of the potential toxicants that could be present when dealing with vintage glass.
Many pieces of depression glass used uranium to achieve their unique color. Only a small amount was used in the glass, so some argue that it is safe to eat or drink off of depression glass that contains uranium.
Although it is much less common, there have also been traces of arsenic found in certain pieces of depression glass. Glass pieces containing arsenic is much less common, but also extremely dangerous, even in small amounts, so it’s important to handle vintage glass with extreme caution.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) discourages those who own any pieces of this type of glass from using depression glass for its original intended purpose of consuming food or beverage. The good news for glass collectors everywhere is that depression glass is OK to be collected and used for decoration around the house. This means the pieces can be placed in your home on display for you and visitors to see and admire, but should not be used like regular dish and kitchenware.
Identifying Hazel-Atlas Glass
Hazel-Atlas glass has a distinguishable logo marking on many of its products, which can help you to identify pieces from this company that could potentially be dangerous. Many products from this company have a large capital letter “H” with a smaller capital letter “A” underneath it, that looks like a smaller stool underneath a table.
The Hazel-Atlas logo is sometimes confused with the Anchor Hocking logo, but they are easy to distinguish from one another because the Anchor Hocking logo also has an anchor on it.
Since not all Hazel-Atlas glass has this logo, you should always err on the side of caution and always handle vintage glass with gloves, or consider having your vintage glass tested so you do not accidentally use or touch a potentially toxic piece of glass from Hazel-Atlas or any other vintage glass company.
There are other ways you can identify Hazel-Atlas glass on your own, and there are plenty of resources available as you navigate the world of vintage glass. You can find guides and books available online that can help you do so like a pro.
Is Hazel-Atlas Glass Dishwasher Safe?
Vintage glass requires specific care. You should never put your Hazel–Atlas glass in the dishwasher, or even fully submerge it in water. Wash it in the sink with a mild, diluted dish soap and a sponge. It’s great to store or display your vintage glass where it can be seen, just be sure to store it somewhere where it’s not going to be in direct sunlight, since too much sun can cause the glass to crack.
Depression glass in general should not be washed in the dishwasher. These items are not dishwasher safe because they were created before dishwashers were popularized and commonly found in your average household. Instead, you should always wash depression glass by hand with warm water.
You should also never place depression glass in the microwave, since this type of glass was made before microwaves had been invented, and is definitely not microwave safe.
Overall, Hazel-Atlas glass should always be handled and stored with care. If you drop and break Hazel-Atlas glass, use gloves to pick up the large pieces and sweep up the smaller ones. If you get cut, go to the hospital, just in case it contained unsafe chemicals.