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Indian Spices and Powders Linked to Lead Poisoning

A study shows that young children who regularly ingest some imported Indian spices may be exposed to lead -- a dangerous neurotoxin.

The study followed patients from the Pediatric Environmental Health Center at Children's Hospital in Boston who had ingested or been exposed to Indian spices and powders.

One 12-month-old boy in the case study was found to have lead poisoning after regularly eating spices such as turmeric, black mustard seed and asafetida. When the family discontinued use of the spices, his blood lead levels went down within six months.

But of greater concern to researchers are religious powders like cherry-colored "sindoor" -- which is applied cosmetically on the skin.  Some of these ritual powders comprise 47 to 64 percent lead, , and can be particularly dangerous when applied on young children.

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