Are you being poisoned by your holiday plates and cups?
Some folks wait until a few days before Christmas, throw up a small tree, and call it a holiday.
Others start right after Halloween, redecorating every surface of the home.
And some are right in the middle, waiting until at least tomorrow -- after Thanksgiving -- to break out the seasonal joy.
But across all styles, there's one thing millions of Americans have in common around the holidays: They switch to decorative plates and glasses.
Some have a set for every occasion! Pumpkin mugs for Halloween... turkeys and cornucopias for Thanksgiving... and, of course, all the reds, greens, silvers, and golds that mark Christmas.
Now, a new study finds that you might want to keep those festive touches in the cabinet this year, because those happy holiday patterns could be hiding a dark secret.
They could contain toxic metals.
The new report finds that 70 percent of decorative cups, tumblers, wine glasses, and beer mugs contain lead, cadmium, or both.
The metals were found in the paints and even in the glazes -- and that's not the worst part of it.
Tests on the glassware found that, even under normal use, the decorative touches can develop tiny chips and fragments that can end up in your drink.
These little flakes are so small that you may not notice them -- which means you could drink them, giving the metals a quick and easy route into your body.
The highest levels were found in some of the most popular colors this time of year. Gold-leaf patterns and colored paints had the highest levels of lead, while enamels -- especially red enamels -- often had the highest levels of cadmium.
In some cases, the glassware had 1,000 times the so-called "safe" limit of these dangerous metals.
But let's face it: There's really no such thing as "safe" when it comes to this stuff. Lead can cause developmental problems in kids and serious health problems in adults, while cadmium can lead to cancer -- all starting, potentially, from your dishware!
The study was done over in the United Kingdom, but you can bet the problem exists right here, as the same made-in-China junk is on sale all over the world these days.
And while the research team focused on drinkware, I'd be just as wary of plates and bowls with decorative flourishes.
I'm not here to ruin the mood of the season or even change how you decorate.
You can always put these things on display and use plates and glasses without the decorative designs.
That'll make your meals safer and cleanup a whole lot easier, too, since you won't have to wash all those fussy painted plates and mugs by hand.