Indian herbal products have been banned by the New York City health officials. The reason is that they contain high levels of lead and mercury which is detrimental for the people using them.
The Food and Nutrition Board of Institute of Medicine advices that foods should contain not more than 2 ppm (parts per million) of lead and no more than one ppm of mercury.
The three products that were banned by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) are:
Jambrulin from Unjha Ayurvedic Pharmacy (24,300 ppm lead) used by diabetic patients to have a check their sugar levels.
Lakshmivilash Ras (Nardiya) from Baidyanath (14,100 ppm mercury) for the treatment of chronic fever, cold and cough.
Maha Sundarshan from Arya Aushadhi Pharmaceutical Works (2,190 ppm mercury) for the treatment of flu and body ache.
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) conducted a study in which it tested the levels of lead and mercury in these three products. The study period extended for a year investigating all the retail stores that catered to the needs of needs of the south Asian residents.
The study revealed that though the three herbal products showed high amounts of lead and mercury the ingredients were not listed on the product labels. But the city law prevents the sale of products which are harmful to the general public.
In 2004 there were 3 adult deaths due to lead poisoning in New York among those who used products brought from India. The victims when interviewed said that they obtained the products from their relatives and friends while visiting India.
The health officials warned the people from using products that contained high levels of mercury and lead as these metals are proved to affect the kidneys, nervous system especially the brain. When accidentally ingested by pregnant women may lead to deformities or death of the developing fetus.
People who have already been using the products are asked to immediately refer their General Physician. The shop keepers were asked to remove all the products that contained high amounts of lead and mercury from their shops and further information about the distributors of such products were also inquired. All steps are taken to provide safe and healthy products to the people of New York. The retailers are asked to put a sign advising the discontinuation of these products by the people.