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HealthSociety Bangladesh21. February 2024

Poisonous Heavy Metal Thoroughly Removed from Spices

Bangladesh has made extensive efforts to remove all sources of lead from the common South Asian turmeric spice.

“The proportion of market turmeric samples containing detectable lead decreased from 47 percent pre-intervention in 2019 to 0 percent in 2021,” reveals the latest study.

Lead, a neurotoxin, brings about lifelong negative side effects and even death for as many as 5.5 million people per year worldwide. Many lead sources, such as leaded gasoline, have already been phased out, but some sources remain. One such source is turmeric spice, known for its bright colour. Years ago, turmeric merchants realized that adding a pigment made from lead chromate allowed for an even more brilliant, more vibrant yellow colour that resulted in better sales. Slowly but surely, people worldwide realized this adulterated spice was slowly poisoning them. A two-part approach began to educate people about the dangers of lead and warn merchants that any addition of lead to the spice is illegal in Bangladesh. The turnaround was quick, as the study found that “blood lead levels dropped a median of 30 per cent,’ once lead vanished from the spice in Bangladesh. The hope is that other countries with similar scenarios, such as India, will follow suit.


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