Lead paint in buildings. Lead paint on toys. Lead paint is almost everywhere. Just ask a parent. Now, according to the results of a new study published by Children's Hospital Boston and the Harvard School of Public Health, there may now be additional cause for concern.
Following reported lead-poisoning cases in children that were all suspected to stem from exposure to exotic Indian spices, the research team collected 86 cooking spices, as well as another 71 specialty powders from fifteen different Indian cultural stores in the greater Boston area. Their results were stunning.
They found that about one-quarter of the tested foodstuffs contained at least one microgram of lead to each gram of actual foodstuff. More than half of the non-consumables contained this same ration of lead.
While, for the most part, these levels are well below the limit of 2-3 micrograms per gram, several were not. Sea salt appears to be especially high in lead concentration. And many experts warn that even those that measure within regulatory limits deserve close attention.
The Dangers of Lead
Exposure to lead has a cumulative effect on the body, and while the levels found in the spices tested may be safe from a regulatory standpoint, when measured together with other commonly known agents such as old lead-based paint, could spell disaster for children's growing bodies.
Lead is a powerful neurotoxin with great potential to cause irreversible brain damage and other developmental changes, especially in very young people. Normally, a healthy body can cope with the limited amount of lead it's exposed to each day. But deficiencies in calcium, iron or vitamin C can create an unbalanced state in which the body absorbs lead much more readily than it should.
Studies have historically given a threshold of 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood in the body before long-term damage begins to occur. More recent studies, however, suggest that levels of only half that high can cause serious damage to the human body.
When the body reaches a point where it is no longer able to purge itself of excess lead, that is to say, severe lead poisoning, doctors will often resort to what is known as a chelating agent, which bonds with lead and pulls it out of the body via the urinary tract. This is an expensive, last-resort, option that can involve more than 30 treatments, each of which takes hours, and can cost several hundred dollars a treatment.
It's scary to think that such high levels of the toxin are now being found in something as benign as exotic table spices. After all, it's an increasingly small world out there, and many of us pride ourselves on having an adventurous palate. And why not? The world is full of delicious flavors just waiting to be tried.
How to Protect Yourself From Lead
Unfortunately, it seems that not all foods that make it into the United States meet regulatory standards. Rather than living in a state of constant worry about exposing yourself and your loved ones to hidden lead, I suggest that get tested for lead contamination.
If you discover you do have lead in your body, or just feel the need to help your body cleanse itself of excess lead and other toxic metals, then I recommend following our toxic metal cleansing instructions. This cleansing method is one of the most efficient and affordable when it comes to cleansing the body of toxic metals.
- Alice Park. Study: Indian Spices, Powders Linked with Lead Poisoning. Time Magazine Health & Family. 2010 March 15.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.