PALO ALTO, California (WPVI) -- Turmeric has been billed as a health booster and healing agent. However, Stanford University researchers have found a very unhealthy element in some of it: lead.
They say some of turmeric produced in Bangladesh is adulterated with lead chromate, an industrial pigment used to make the spice a brighter yellow.
Lead chromate is commonly used for furniture and toys
The practice began in the 1980s, when a massive flood caused the turmeric crop to become a dull yellow.
Bangladesh is one of the world's dominant turmeric-growing regions, and turmeric is a staple of the diet.
Lead is a potent toxin to the nervous system, which can also increase heart disease and blood pressure.
A recent study confirms for the first time that turmeric is the likely contributor to elevated blood lead levels among Bangladeshis.
The Stanford researchers aren't sure how widespread the practice of coloring with lead chromate still is, or whether food safety checks are catching it.
Study shows lead found in some turmeric