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Last Updated: February 20, 2019


Lead: Medicinal Ceremonial Sources 1

Images: used with permission from Palomitra Hore, NYC Health Dept and Daniel Schmidt, Ramsey County, MN

Big idea: Items used for medicinal, ceremonial or religious purposes can contain lead.

Talking points:

  • Ayurvedic Medications – obtained in India to treat Eczema; 47,000 ppm lead; can come in powder or pill form; some intentionally include heavy metals in the formulation
  • Charm – Tabeez, used on 1 year old child, from Bangladesh, used to stop child from crying, 580,000 ppm lead
  • Sindoor – used as a cosmetic in religious ceremonies; Hindu and some Sikh women may wear sindoor (red powder) a the part of their hair to indicate marital status; may be used at a shrine; not all sindoor has high lead
  • Surma/kohl – cosmetics; very common in South Asia, Africa, Middle East; one use is to put dot on baby’s forehead to make it less perfect and ward off evil (Hore presentation, 2017 CDC Lead Training)
  • Kohl – blue package, 468,708 ppm lead, made in Pakistan
  • Kohl – green lid, 362,419 ppm lead, no manuf info listed
  • Kajal – yellow package, 41,298 ppm lead, made in Pakistan
  • Tiro – black stick, 82.6% lead, from Nigeria


Ayurvedic herbal medicine and lead poisoning 

Palomitra Hore, NYC Health Dept

Sindoor Alert

Categories: Lead