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Toxic Holi colours in Mumbai: FDA does not know what to do about them

mumbai Updated: Feb 28, 2018 09:47 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times

Colour manufacturers said in the absence of regulation, there is no way to control sale of hazardous chemicals.(Hindustan Times)

Despite the health issues faced by people owing to the chemicals in colours used to play Holi, the food and drugs administration (FDA) in the state is unable to regulate it. Reason: FDA officials are unaware of the guidelines for use of chemical components in the colours.

As the state gets ready to celebrate Holi on March 2, the state FDA plans to write to the central drug authority, seeking details about the standards for use of chemical components in colours. “We will release a public notice to caution residents about spurious colours. We will also write to the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) to clarify if the issue comes under our jurisdiction and on what basis can we take action against those who don’t follow the standards,” said an FDA official.

Colour manufacturers said in the absence of regulation, there is no way to control sale of hazardous chemicals. The only test that can be performed to check the components of a colour is toxicity test, which is conducted at a Dadar-based lab of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

“Toxicity test is not enough. There are a number of other components that may not be toxic, but prove to be harmful in the long run. To make sure our colours are harmless, we conduct a formaldehyde test (test for the highly toxic systemic poison), 19 heavy metal tests (group of tests that measures the quantity of specific potentially toxic metals) and skin irritation tests,” said Karan Ganatra from Rang Barse, a brand that has been manufacturing Holi colours for 60 years.

While organic colours have starch as their base, medical experts said the hazardous ones are known to have metals such as aluminum and iron as major ingredients. Along with traces of sulphur, potassium, manganese, titanium, zirconium and calcium, colours such as yellow, dark pink and red contain lead which is extremely poisonous.

“The ingredients used most commonly in dry powders (Mica) can cause micro-cuts on the skin, thus exposing it to various microbes and allergens and causing reactions,” said Dr Sharmila Patil, consultant dermatologist from Fortis hospital.

First Published: Feb 28, 2018 09:46 IST