Contaminated turmeric is a potential source of lead exposure for children in rural Bangladesh

J Environ Public Health. 2014;2014:730636. doi: 10.1155/2014/730636. Epub 2014 Aug 24.


Background: During the conduct of a cohort study intended to study the associations between mixed metal exposures and child health outcomes, we found that 78% of 309 children aged 20-40 months evaluated in the Munshiganj District of Bangladesh had blood lead concentrations ≥5 µg/dL and 27% had concentrations ≥10 µg/dL.

Hypothesis: Environmental sources such as spices (e.g., turmeric, which has already faced recalls in Bangladesh due to high lead levels) may be a potential route of lead exposure.

Methods: We conducted visits to the homes of 28 children randomly selected from among high and low blood lead concentration groups. During the visits, we administered a structured questionnaire and obtained soil, dust, rice, and spice samples. We obtained water samples from community water sources, as well as environmental samples from neighborhood businesses.

Results: Lead concentrations in many turmeric samples were elevated, with lead concentrations as high as 483 ppm. Analyses showed high bioaccessibility of lead.

Conclusions: Contamination of turmeric powder is a potentially important source of lead exposure in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh
  • Cohort Studies
  • Curcuma / chemistry*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Lead / blood
  • Male
  • Rural Population
  • Spectrometry, X-Ray Emission
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Lead