Skip to main content

“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).

Additional Information

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.