To my knowledge , I have always been thinking that lead that can harm people comes from house paint, imported toys and other sources but I never once thought lead could come from spices or herbs that are perceived to be natural.
The article from New York Times on March 22, 2010 reported lead being found in Indian spices and powders. In Indian ceremonies they use vermilion powder to apply along the hair line or as a dot to the forehead. Pediatricians at Children's Hospital in Boston and Massachusetts Public Health tested 157 products after 4 young children were refered to a Hospital with elevated blood lead levels. 50% of these products were reportedly contaminated with lead according to researchers involved, 81% of these contaminated products were ceremonial powders and other cosmetic products used in Indian ceremonies and 19% were from Spices and Herbs. Rabin (2010) reported that Indian Children as young as 3 years old use powder applied to their forehead regularly for religious ceremonies.
I am not sure how the Public Health Department will handle the issue like this, especially when religion is involved with all the laws around that. These people are not doing these to harm the children, it is their religious belief and culture and yet the department of Public Health may attempt to try to protects these children but it can be challenging because this seems to be the delicate area especially if Government laws and religious belief gets involved.
Posted by Anna Moreno