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Indian J Clin Biochem. 2013 Jan;28(1):71-3. doi: 10.1007/s12291-012-0235-6. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Eye cosmetic 'surma': hidden threats of lead poisoning.

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Department of Pathology, ESIC Hospital & Occupational Disease Centre (EZ), DH Road, Kolkata, 700104 India.


Traditional eye cosmetics 'Surma' use is a popular practice. A total 34 'Surma' samples of black, brown, orange, grey and white were collected and analysed for the presence of lead. High lead levels were detected in all samples except white colour 'Surma'. Blood lead concentrations were measured in 93 children, of whom 69 used 'Surma' regularly. The mean blood lead concentration of 'Surma' users was found to be 29.6 ± 10.2 μg/100 ml; where as non user's value was 4.9 ± 0.8 μg/100 ml. Also, the low haemoglobin levels were observed in the users (10.2 ± 1.4 g/100 ml). In conclusion, the use of 'Surma' is associated with high blood lead concentration with significant reduction of haemoglobin levels. For better quality of life, the use of lead free 'Surma' is suggested.


Haemoglobinopathy; Lead poisoning; Surma

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