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.