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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 730636, 5 pages
Research Article

Contaminated Turmeric Is a Potential Source of Lead Exposure for Children in Rural Bangladesh

1Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2Jefferson Medical College, 1025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
3Oregon State University, 15 Milam, Corvallis, OR 97331, Bangladesh
4Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 17 East 102nd Street, New York, NY 10029, USA
5Oregon State University, 15 Milam, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
6Department of Neurology, Fegan 11 Neurology, Boston Children’s Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Received 8 May 2014; Revised 21 July 2014; Accepted 22 July 2014; Published 24 August 2014

Academic Editor: Pam R. Factor-Litvak

Copyright © 2014 Kelsey Gleason et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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.