Health officials say alarming levels of lead discovered in traditional cosmetics, turmeric

OREGON —┬áState and local health officials say there have been alarming levels of lead in turmeric and some traditional cosmetics.

They say in some cases the levels reach tens of thousands of times higher than federal regulations. The Oregon health authority and the Food and Drug Administration are working to identify the dangerous products and educate the community.

“So it’s common and we’ve seen it in foodstuffs like turmeric, and in cosmetics,” Jackson County Health Medical Director, Jim Shames said. “There’s no safe level of lead.”

The products listed on the screen are the ones found to be contaminated with lead. They say it’s been found in traditional cosmetics used in Hindu and Muslim religious practices, and some other south and southeast Asia cultures. One reaches as high as 59 percent of lead which is over 58,000 times the recommended limit.

Some products of concern include:

  • Sindoor, Kumkum, Tikka, and Roli
    • Ancient Veda Sindoor
    • Divine Supplies Sindoor
  • Kohl
    • Hashmi Surma Special
    • Al-Asmad Alharmain Zam Zam & Rose Water
  • Turmeric
    • The lead powder is sometimes added to turmeric root or powder to make the product more vibrant and to cover insect damage. People are then exposed to the lead when that spice is eaten. Health officials are primarily concerned about the spice hand-carried into the United States from India or Bangladesh, rather than products sold in major U.S. supermarkets. One recent sample brought from India contained 1,240 parts per million of lead. There is no FDA regulatory limit or recommendation for lead in spice, but for reference, the FDA has set a limit of 0.1 parts per million for candy likely to be consumed frequently by children.

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