“Surma, an ore that is mined and ground into a powder, has been used for centuries as a cosmetic and to ward off evil. Manufacturing is not regulated and lead content varies greatly, from 16 to 70 %. Many women also apply ‘Surma’ to their infant’s faces, uninformed about its potential damage to every organ system in the body” (NCBI Research Study).
From 2012 NCBI Research Study: In this study, we found a close association between the use of ‘Surma’ and high blood lead concentration. Clearly, from these results, it appears unlikely that transcorneal transport is a contributory mechanism for absorption of lead. On the other hand, lead might be absorbed across the conjunctiva; lacrimation, eye rubbing and finger sucking are probably the route of ingestion.
The mean blood lead concentration of ‘Surma’ users was found to be 29.6 ± 10.2 μg/100 ml; whereas the non user’s value was 4.9 ± 0.8 μg/100 ml.
The ‘Surma’ is traditionally applied to the conjunctival surfaces rather than to the outside of the eyelids with the help of a metal applicator; used to streak eye powder across the eyeball. Its use is cosmetic and medicinal. It is used to stop bleeding and after circumcision for hygienic measures. When a person uses ‘Surma’, it can get on to the hands and the user may ingest the lead through hand-to-mouth contact. Some lead may also be absorbed through the eyes.