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Health Warning About Imported Products Containing Lead: A List

Updated on November 1, 2011
Brooklyn, New York City
Brooklyn, New York City | Source

Imported Products With Lead

Living in New York City, we are constantly warned about the health hazards of lead poisoning. This is largely due to the old buildings and the lead-based paint used for decades.

But no one is immune from the many imported products that also contain lead. We bring these products into our home. Products like health remedies (see the list below of products banned in NYC and the U.S.), cosmetics, pottery, candies and we are all familiar with the endless recalls of jewelry, toys and other products aimed at children.

I cannot tell you how many times I've turned on the news and there is yet another warning about these products being pulled off the shelves here in the City - along with very serious warnings. Despite banning certain items listed here - often small neighborhood stores still sell them - that is, until an inspector shows up and gives out fines. This is often the result of investigative reporting at its best.

Why is Lead a Concern?

Lead is poison. This poisonous metal is known to damage the kidneys, reproductive system, nervous system and the brain. Additionally, lead causes learning and behavioral disabilities in children, as well as a delay in development and growth, and creates problems during pregnancy.

Children are most often poisoned by lead dust from peeling paint.  But now many products making their way into the U.S. are known to contain lead and present yet another source of danger. 

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has created a very specific list of what to avoid.

1 - Remedies/Herbal Medicines -  Herbal medicines from Latin America, China, India and the Middle East have been found to have very high levels of lead. Unfortunately, it may be hard to tell which products are safe and which are dangerous. The product may have lead even if it's not listed on the label.

Because of this several remedies have been banned for sale in New York City. You are advised not to use the following:


Hepatico Extract

Emperor's Tea Pill

Maha Sudarshan


Lakshmivilash Ras (Nardiya)


Mahayogaraj Guggulu enriched with silver

2 - Cosmetics - Kohl, surma and kajal eye cosmetics from Pakistan, Bangladesh India and certain Middle Eastern countries contain high levels of lead and are banned for sale in the U.S. Children are especially at risk because they may touch the products and then put their hands in their mouth. Lead is also known to be absorbed through the eyes.

Another product is known as Sindoor. This is a red powder that also contains high levels of lead. It should never be used in food and always kept away from children.

3 - Pottery/Dishes - Those lovely decorative pottery pieces including plates, bowls, tea pots, covered jars, etc. also contain high levels of lead. Lead is in the paints and glazes used for the fancy decorations. This pottery comes from different Asian and Latin American countries.

Food should never be cooked, stored or served in pottery from the above-mentioned countries.

4 - Candy - The latest warning is about Mexican candies and I remember this warning on the news. While most of the candy is believed to be safe, there are some that contain lead and those are especially the ones flavored with chili powder. Lead is sometimes found in the candy wrappers - and this may get into the candy. Tamarind candies sold in clay pots also contain lead. It is recommended that you avoid these candy and snack products:

Chaca chaca


Tamarind Candy (in clay pots)

5 - Children's Toys, Jewelry etc. - Recalls about these products are endless. Lead is found in the metal and plastic parts of jewelry, in paint and toys, on vinyl lunch boxes and many other imported products aimed specifically for children. Many products are from China. Children who put their hands and the toys in their mouth, of course are at greatest risk. Additionally, many of these products create a choking hazard. It's important to know about recalls and you can do so by checking the website for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Often these items are sold at the so-called 99cent stores. 

Thousands of these products containing lead have been recalled. Be careful if you shop at thrift stores because sometimes these products have been donated. I've seen notices in thrift shop windows asking people not to bring in recalled items - the stores are not permitted to sell them.

What should you do if you have used these products?

The Health Department recommends that:

- you stop using them

- have a blood lead test

Warning: Children with lead poisoning often do not feel or look sick. The only way to know if your child has lead poisoning is through a lead blood test.

- in New York City, if you do not have a doctor, call 311 for assistance.

Keep in mind too, that if you are planning to do a home demolition or any type of renovation, many of the products previously used to make these products are also toxic - such as lead in paint - and the dust is a hazard. (See link below about the health hazards of home demolitions and renovations)

Also see links below for healthy home/living suggestions:


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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      How true sharewhatuknow - the lead is still here - and once it was banned from paint - well, I suppose manufacturers had to do something with this poison. So why not put it in another product. How sly and sickening. We just have to remember it is profit before people, including baby people. We also have to remember we don't need most of the junk we buy.

      Interesting about that white cosmetic paint - oh, I loved the pun! Thanks!

    • sharewhatuknow profile image


      7 years ago from Western Washington

      Hello there BkCreative. Very great hub, and voted up and useful.

      In this day and age I was so surprised to read in your hub that lead is still a very real and present danger. India and China are aware of the dangers of lead, but still their products manufactured there contain it. Unbelievable.

      I read a few weeks ago that the white cosmetic paint (powder?) that Queen Elizabeth I used on her face contained lead, and that this led (pardon the pun) to her death!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So dangerous and it is turning up in so many places. Whew. Thank you for writing Thelma Alberts!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Thank you for this very informative article. We should be vigilant to what makes us sick. Lead is really dangerous to our health.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      We have to be soooo vigilant 2besure. This morning there was an article about pesticides from China that are so toxic they can kill you almost immediately. They were being pulled off the shelves in Chinatown.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 

      7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I have heard of the high lead content in some herbs from outside the US. It is so scary, it is like it isn't even safe to try to get healthy! Thanks for reminding me I do buy dry herbs from the health food store.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I'm glad you found the list useful september girl.

      You're welcome RTalloni!

      Thank you drpastorcarlotta and thanks for the ratings!

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 

      7 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      WOW! Very informational BkCreative! You really did the research! I appreciate you!! God Bless, Rated--Up! and useful!!

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much for this heads up and reference list!

    • profile image

      september girl 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing the list. Found this hub to be interesting as well as useful! : )

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks anglnwu! I'm glad you found the hub helpful. There is still so much more - that I just feel overwhelmed. Whew! Thanks too, for the vote!

    • anglnwu profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for tipping us off--I'm glad you've done the sleuth work so the public can be warned. We don't need lead poisoning on top of all the health hazards of just living this life. Rated up.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much for the comments. I was in the library again yesterday and the table was filled with even more literature warning about lead. One was directed at pregnant women, one children and one about lead throughout the home. Good grief!

    • peterhark69 profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      Great info to avoid poisonous products such as lead which has been advertised to be really dangerous to our health but still a lot of products being sold in the market contains it. Great information about products to avoid that contain lead.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      A great help to avoid poisonous products. Thank you.

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      7 years ago from Templeton, CA

      A good reminder that we need to keep informed about the products we use. Progress isn't always good for us, and we often do get what we pay for.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      7 years ago

      Great hub. Thanks for sharing this useful info, BKCreative. My body is probably full of toxins already due to air pollution and chemicals in food products. I certainly don't want lead poisoning on top of that!

    • CountryCityWoman profile image


      7 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

      Yes, I am a New Yorker too, and endless warnings just wear me out. How can anyone raise children here? There is absolutely no accountability when it comes to putting any toxic piece of garbage on the market. Perhaps this Christmas we should not shop at all - and demand change. Sure, everyone will start yelling about we need jobs. Well, I doubt if selling crack is as harmful as what is on the market - and crack dealers need to eat too.

      Well, I suppose it is good that we now have an internet forum to warm each other.

      Thanks and rated up!

    • TheListLady profile image


      7 years ago from New York City

      I live in NYC and it is as bad and probably worse than we think. Even our old building pipes are a lead hazard. When I'm at the local library there are always tons of literature available warning us about lead and our children and the effect on pregnant women and on and on. Add to that the fact that this city is way overcrowded. We are truly living at the bottom but paying top dollar - whew!

      Thanks for the info and thanks for the link warning about camphor. I remember when that was on the news last year. It is just one toxin after the other.

      Rated up!

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      7 years ago from Delaware

      Thank you BK, very important reminders here.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      As noted, we must be vigilant. Our health cannot be taken for granted. Great article. thanks for sharing. Flag up!

    • lmmartin profile image


      7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Another useful piece of advice, BkCreative. We are living in a world without ethics. Lead in candy. Poisons in baby food and pet food. Known toxic substances in the building materials we must now import from China (seeing as no one makes anything here anymore.) Perhaps it's due to our constant chasing of the lowest possible price. When that price is our health, it is time to rethink our priorities.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Unfortunately thoughtforce, we have the same problem here in New York City but you don't hear about it too often - our ancient pipes are filled with lead. We are told to run the cold water for a bit and not use warm tap water. We are endlessly bombarded with lead coming at us from everywhere. Thanks for sharing that bit of information about the brass pipes - comments are so useful for sharing information and thanks for the vote!

      I'm glad you found the hub useful Dexter Yarbrough. How cruel and savage that manufacturer's and sellers have no conscience when it comes to selling products to our children. Thanks for the vote!

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi BKCreative! This a very informative hub that I hope many will read. It is hard to imagine lead being in candy and kids toys, but it is true.

      Thank you so much for sharing this important information. Voted up, up and away!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      Hi BKcreative, Great hub about this important problem! It is so difficult to keep up and stay away from all dangerous chemicals in everyday products so this list is very useful! Here in Sweden the Swedish Chemicals agency found lead in common water taps! Part of the tap was made of brass containing lead, which led to drinking water containing lead at levels 12 times higher than the recommended limit! So now everyone is worried and try to find out if the taps are made of brass!

      Very useful and interesting article! You have listed many things I didn’t know could contain lead!

      Thanks, voted up, useful!



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