Some eye cosmetics such as kohl, kajal and surma, which are imported from Pakistan and India, have been found to contain very high levels of lead, a toxic metal that wreaks havoc on the brain, nervous system, kidneys and reproductive system.
A number of kohl, kajal and surma products bought from different stores in New York City were recently tested by the New York City Health Department. The federal recommended limit for lead in certain cosmetic additives is 10 parts per million (ppm), but most of the products tested had lead concentrations way above that limit. These products are:
Hashmi Surma Special, made in Pakistan, 47 percent lead (468,708 ppm), Pure Kohl from the Waters of ZamZam, manufacturer information not listed, 36 percent lead (362,419 ppm), Hashmi Kohl Aswad, made in Pakistan, contains 27 percent lead (272,353 ppm), Hashmi Kajal, made in Pakistan, contains 4 percent lead (41,298 ppm). [Source]
These products, which are also imported from certain African and Middle East countries, are quite popular, and are sold in almost every neighborhood ethnic store. The Health Department has promptly issues a warning to New Yorkers not to use any of these products.