In a development that challenges traditional customs, a new study has found that sindoor (vermillion) contains toxic levels of lead. It may be recalled that lead is associated with various health issues such as lower IQ, behavioral problems and delayed growth among children. It is also fatal when ingested. The study was conducted at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Sindoor samples were collected from both the US and India and checked for the presence of lead. Researchers were surprised to find that more than 3/4th of the samples had 1 microgram of lead per gram of cosmetic powder. And around 1/3rd of the sindoor samples had lead in excess of the limit of 20 micrograms per gram of cosmetic powder, as imposed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The findings of the study have been published in the American Journal of Public Health. Sindoor is commonly used by many communities in India. It is used by married women who put the powder on their head, just above the forehead. It is also used during various religious functions. With the presence of lead, it is clearly a risk for people who use it and others, especially children. The co-author of the study Derek Shendell said that the supply of sindoor should be banned in the United State and only those products that are without lead should be allowed. Indian government also needs to act promptly on this to protect women and children.