Woman Makes Horrifying Discovery About Thrifted Mugs: 'Tested Positive'

A vintage collector has shared a shocking discovery about her thrifted items on TikTok, receiving almost 3.5 million views.

Brandi Royer, from California, is a keen thrifter—collecting the best of vintage homeware and fashion for herself and her online store.

"I've been collecting for about six years," Royer told Newsweek. "I find them from thrift shops or estate sales."

Lead testing vintage mugs
Pictures of vintage mugs being tested for lead (inset). Collector Brandi Royer has shocked the internet after revealing how much of her much-loved collection contains toxic levels of lead. MoonFlowerThrifts/Instagram & TikTok

However, with a heavy heart, Royer said on her TikTok page that "collecting vintage mugs is cancelled" as she shared footage of the moment she tested her much-loved cups for lead. A huge chunk of her collection came up as positive, meaning they were not safe to use.

Lead paint is frequently found in homeware that is more than 40 years old. Long before any federal regulation on toxic substances, such paint was frequently used to decorate items like furniture, ceramics and even toys.

Secondhand sales of vintage items aren't regulated, and as a result, many buyers aren't aware of the potential risk they are bringing into their home.

"I was completely shocked when I found out about the lead and had never heard anyone talk about it prior," said Royer. "I saw another TikTok about how vintage Pyrex dishes test positive for lead, which made me really freaked out about all of my vintage mugs and plates."

Royer ordered an at-home test kit to go through her collection and was shocked by the results.

"Ten of them came back positive," she said. "I was devastated. They were some of my favorite ones, too."

As Royer tested her collected vintage homeware, she found a pattern, too: "The ones with more vibrant colors [tested positive]. I've read that often the more vibrant colors will equal more lead. I even started thinking about how maybe some of my minor unexplained health issues and headaches might stem from using them daily."

Lead poisoning from antiques and vintage items is rare, but many state health departments do still warn against the potential dangers of lead in older homeware.

Research by Princeston University revealed that over half of the U.S. population will be exposed to adverse levels of lead in early childhood, with several million people affected by five-plus times the current safe reference level.

Lead poisoning can lead to delayed mental development, memory and concentration problems, shortened attention span, and aggressive behavior. Physical symptoms include high blood pressure, kidney damage, digestive problems, muscle and joint pain and fertility problems that can harm a developing fetus.

Researchers estimated that lead is responsible for the loss of 824,097,690 IQ points as of 2015.

"Well, this is something I wasn't afraid of 5 minutes ago," wrote one TikTok user after seeing the video, while another posted: "No and they're so pretty too!"

However, one fellow thrifting fan commented: "Mine have succulents in them now or hold jewelry," while another agreed and wrote: "Don't get rid of them!! They are gorgeous and there are plenty of other safe uses."

Royer plans to keep some of her much-loved vintage collection, using them as planters instead of crockery.

"Honestly, I feel really silly and naive that I didn't think of it as being a possibility," Royer said. "I wanted to share a funny meme about it while also spreading awareness."