Sindoor, also popularly known as kumkum in the southern part of India, is commonly used by all married Hindu women as it signifies the sacred bond of marriage. Sindoor is regularly used along the parting of the hair. Some women even use it to make a dot on the forehead, called bindi. In olden days, sindoor was made at home using turmeric powder, alum, calcium salt, camphor, saffron, sandalwood and beet extracts. However in present times, this sacred red orange powder must be used carefully because it has side effects beyond imagination.
Chemical composition of sindoor
The synthetic dye industry grows low-priced red dyes termed as sindoor which are available everywhere and mainly contain the following:
Vermillion, reddish orange element which is a powdered form of cinnabar
Chemical dyes, lead and other synthetic materials
Powered crude red lead, Pb304
Rhodamine B dye
There are many unbranded blood red powders available at cheap rates in the market, because the manufacturers aim at producing any local dye which is readily available along with toxic substances and other bulking materials. These can render rich colour that is attractive and most women don t look at ingredients when buying sindoor.
Side effects of using sindoor
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Apart from rashes, itching, hair loss, other problems that can be caused include:
Skin cancer, due to mercury sulphite
Hereditary disorders, due to rhodamine B dye
Itching and dandruff problems
Food poisoning, if consumed by mistake
Harmful for brain, kidney, eyes and reproductive system if inhaled, absorbed or eaten
Making sindoor at home is an easy process and requires the following:
Mix them in equal amounts, add water to make a paste
Form small balls and leave it for drying in the sun
Crush the dried balls and natural sindoor is ready
Store it in an air tight container
Preventive measures being taken on a global front
Strict regulations are being implemented on the cosmetic industry to use a specific amount of lead so that harmful effect to the skin can be minimised.
ISO procedure is being implemented so that manufacturing process is under scrutiny.
Eco marked products are being introduced, which ensure safety, quality and performance standards set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
Presence of lead in cosmetics in many countries is banned.
Sindoor or kumkum is one of the major factors which lead to lead poisoning, especially in the rural areas where application of sindoor in large quantities is a must for every married woman. It is high time that people become aware of its side effects and take precautionary measures. Buying it from local market where it is sold in loose power form must be strictly avoided and restricted.
Photo source: Getty images
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