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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Troops who deploy to Iraq, Kuwait and other southwest Asian countries are being warned to not eat or drink from souvenir tableware.

Maj. Alice Chapman, 374th Medical Group Public Health Flight commander, said ceramic or metal tableware from those nations doesn’t necessarily meet U.S. safety standards for lead and other heavy metals.

The warning wasn’t issued because of any particular problem, Chapman said. But military officials discovered vendors on some bases where troops deploy are selling items that contained lead.

With some of Yokota’s airmen deploying to the region in support of Aerospace Expeditionary Force Blue — and now Silver — she said educating the public is important.

The information was released from the Air Force’s public health headquarters at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C.

Popular souvenirs include ceramic mugs and pitchers, copper pots, pewter mugs, flatware and glazed or unglazed coffee mugs.

Chapman cautioned airmen to take the warnings seriously.

“Lead is a heavy metal that when ingested can cause a variety of health problems,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adult lead exposure can cause anemia, nervous system dysfunction, kidney problems, hypertension, decreased fertility and increased miscarriages. Children may exhibit symptoms of neurological damage, including learning disabilities and short attention spans.

“The souvenirs are a wonderful memento and are great for display,” Chapman said. “Just don’t use them to eat or drink from.”

Contact your base public health section for more information.

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