Boston researchers have linked lead poisoning in four local children to imported Indian powders and food spices, and follow-up tests found some ceremonial powders and spices sold in local specialty grocery stores contained detectable amounts of the toxic metal.

Researchers from Children's Hospital Boston, Wellesley College, and the Harvard School of Public Health found the harmful neurotoxin in half of the powders — often rubbed on the skin for religious or cultural reasons — they bought in 15 Indian stores around Boston. One popular powder, a bright red one called sindoor, had very high levels of lead. Lead showed up as well in a quarter of the food products they tested, though at low levels.

The Boston researchers study included only a sampling of specialty stores, the researchers cautioned, and three of the four poisonings were clearly linked to the powders, probably ingested accidentally by children. — New York Times News Service

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