Researchers find lead in turmeric

Some spice processors in Bangladesh use an industrial lead chromate pigment to imbue turmeric with a bright yellow color prized for curries and other traditional dishes, elevating blood lead levels in Bangladeshis.

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By Rob Jordan

Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

It’s billed as a health booster and healing agent, but it may be the source of cognitive defects and other severe ailments. A new Stanford-led study reveals that turmeric – a commonly used spice throughout South Asia – is sometimes adulterated with a lead-laced chemical compound in Bangladesh, one of the world’s predominant turmeric-growing regions.


A merchant displays powdered and whole spices, including turmeric in the Karwan Bazar of Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Image credit: Abir Abdullah/Asian Development Bank)

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