They're a staple novelty at every tourist destination around the world. Do people actually use this item or is it just placed on a mantle? Maybe its in a cupboard for when house guests invade the home they can witness where you've travelled? The function of this item is pretty self-explanitory, with the only differences between each other being the exterior aesthetics, maybe even encompassing sculptural properties. However, signs abound with warnings and disclaimers describing this item as hazardous to a person's health. Why would someone purchase something fully aware of the risk it poses to the user's health?
The shot glass is a common item in every airport, hotel, and resort gift shop. What can possibly be so dangerous about a small, stout shot glass other than potentially shattering? The artwork on the exterior of these novelty shot glasses are created using lead based paint. Why? I have no idea. You would think that in this day and age an alternative choice to this harmful paint would be utilized but for some reason this lead based paint in used on a monumental scale. I haven't done too much traveling in my young age but from the locales I've travelled to, a good amount of these shot glasses are elaborately and colorfully adorned with this toxic substance.
I believe the manufacturers of these shot glasses are fully aware of the harm they can potentially cause in a future user of their product yet production continues without hesitation to cease assembly. I was even in the UC Davis bookstore and came across shot glasses with a sign warning the consumer of the lead paint included with the product as well as the side effects that can develop from its use.
A way to bypass the risk altogether is to just resist the urge to purchase this novelty. If worst comes to worst and you absolutely need to have this memento from the far away land you're visiting, purchase a shot glass with as little exterior paint as possible. Shot glasses that are engraved rather than painted reduce the risk of lead poisoning dramatically.
So please, drink responsibly.