It’s not just Maggi that has high lead content.
Our daily-use consumables, be it turmeric and vermillion (arishina-kumkum) sold on the roadside, or cosmetics such as kajal and lipstick (both branded and unbranded), can contain high lead content.
In fact, the National Referral Centre for Lead Projects in India (NRCLPI), at St. John’s Medical College, has been analysing various consumables for lead content. It has found samples of both branded and unbranded items to have lead above permissible limits.
On Monday, NRCLPI staff tested samples of turmeric and vermillion using a handheld X-ray fluorescence machine in the presence of the media.
The test revealed that one sq.cm. of a 50-gm packet of vermillion had around 503 ppm lead (parts per million) and an equal portion of turmeric had around 447 ppm lead.
The lead content should be nil in these items.
NRCLPI Director Thuppil Venkatesh told presspersons here on Monday that powdered spices, both packaged and sold loose, cosmetics (branded and unbranded), rice from various sources, vegetables, paints and toys, soil and dust and plumbing material from various manufacturers that were tested at the centre have been found to have lead above permissible levels.
“At present, we are using internationally accepted data to detect lead content as we do not have national standards for some material for its lead content,” he said.
Calling upon people to be careful about exposure to lead, Dr. Venkatesh said: “There is possibility of lead in your house if you have stocks of material containing lead, such as paints, inverters, toys, unbranded cosmetics, unbranded traditional medicines and folk medicines.”
He also advised people to use eco-friendly Ganesha idols to keep the environment free from lead.
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