Household and Personal Care TODAY
n 3/2011
percent). Thus the first of these two samples could
cause lead toxicity if ingested by a child, and the second
sample could
cause such toxicity.
For the sample made in India (“Hind Ka Noor Eyeliner”, and
black in colour) the medicinal information given on the
enclosed leaflet stated: “Protects you permanently from
diseases of the eye” and “Very advantageous against the
weakness of the eye, or water in the eye, or dirt, or eye pain, or
inflammation”. This sample was found to be based on
amorphous carbon, with minor components of talc
) and quartz (SiO
). Thus whilst these ingredients
are unlikely to cause toxicity if ingested in
amounts, we
feel the medicinal claims are excessive.
Only one of the three samples with medicinal information given
in English had any details. This was the Indian-made sample,
“Harmain’s Surma”, and on an enclosed leaflet was stated:
“Most helpful in the treatment of all kinds of eye troubles such
as: Eye weakness, Haziness, Tears, Eye dirt, Burning Eyes,
Scratching, Redishness Etc” and “Harmain’s SURMA strengthens
the vision and gives a cooling effect to the eyes whilst it fights
disease”. This sample was found to be a “shiny” grey-black
powder with galena as its major component and with talc,
anglesite (PbSO
) and cerussite (PbCO
) as the minor
components. Thus its medicinal claims are unlikely at best and
outrageous at worst.
The other two samples gave much less information (in English)
on their medicinal uses. One, “Khojati DeLux Surma with Almond
oil”, merely stated: “Purely herbal. With a mild astringent effect.
Unani medicine”. As it was found to be a black sample based
on zincite (with minor components of calcium carbonate,
amorphous carbon, quartz and magnetite) then its toxicity
would be low if ingested. The last sample, “Khojati Surma Sada”,
stated on its container: “Unani Medicine. For external use in the
eye only”. However, on an enclosed leaflet was stated: “it does
not make the eyes water and can
be used for children below 8
” (our italics). As this (“shiny”) grey-black sample was found
to be based on galena (with minor components of anglesite
and cerussite) then this suggested usage on young children,
even if only external, is to be challenged.
Comparison with other studies
Of the 21 kohl samples studied here it was found that 8 (38
percent) contain a lead compound (galena, PbS), either as a
major (7) or minor (1) component. This percentage is lower than
those found in several (6 of 10) of our other country studies (1-9
and see Figure 4). For the three other studies done on kohls
texture. Above this particle size the sample becomes
increasingly “shiny”. It had previously been found (18) that
reducing the particle size of galena leads to a significant
increase in its rate of dissolution in gastric fluid. Thus a matt
galena-based powder would be much more easily dissolved in
gastric fluid than a “shiny”/“very shiny” powder; with the latter
perhaps going straight through the body with minimum
absorption and negligible toxicity. Two such samples in this study
are described as “matt” and both were made abroad (Saudi
Arabia and Pakistan). Thus these two “matt” samples are more
likely than the other galena-based samples to give rise to lead
Written information on the container/packaging
Four of the samples had written information on the sample’s
contents. These samples were made in India (3) and
Pakistan (1).
The sample made in Pakistan (“Hashmi Surmi Special”)
stated, in Urdu, that the sample contained (with our
interpretations/comments given in brackets in
): “Stone
of Basra” (
perhaps a calcium/iron/zinc-based mineral)
“Ground Zinc” (
perhaps zincite
), “Aniseed oil”, “A medical
root” (
possibly a plant root
) and “Black Surma” (
a term
sometimes used to indicate the presence of galena
). Its
major component was in fact galena (
it was a black
matt powder), but none of the other compounds listed on its
packaging were in fact found by us.
One (“Hind Ka Noor Eyeliner”) of the three Indian-made
samples gave, in English on its container, qualitative information
on its contents: “Carbon Black” (
i.e. amorphous carbon, which
was found as its major component and which gave it a black
), “Camphor” and “Menthol” (both organic carbon-
based compounds, neither of which was found in the sample).
The other two Indian-made samples gave quantitative
information, in English, on their packagings. One (“Khojati Surma
Sada”, a grey-black ‘shiny’ powder) merely said “Asmad (100)”
and “Ground in natural extracts”. The word “Asmad” is usually
taken to mean “a (crushed if powder) rock from Saudi Arabia” -
where the “rock” is often galena - and which was found to be
the sample’s major component. The third Indian-made sample
(“Khojati DeLux Surma with Almond oil”, and black in colour)
gave the most detailed information on its contents (with our
interpretations/comments given in brackets in
): “Sang-e-
Basari (17.00) (soaked in 5 percent Almond oil)” (“Stone of
as before
), “Gile Surkh (50.00)” (“red ochre”
, that is some
form of red iron oxide, possibly hydrated
), and “Sufoof-e-Syah
(33.00)” (“Black from oil of Almond”,
amorphous carbon
). Zincite was found to be
its major component, with minor components
of calcium carbonate, amorphous carbon,
quartz and magnetite.
As regards data on the medicinal effects to
be obtained from using a particular sample,
six of our samples gave such information in
writing - three in Arabic and three in English.
Two of the former samples were from Saudi
Arabia and one from India. The information
given on the packagings of the two samples
from Saudi Arabia were: “Refreshes and
purifies the eye” and “Strengthens the
muscles of the eye” for the “Kohl Original
Stone” sample (which was found to be a
galena-based grey-black
powder); and
“Sweetens the sight” for the “Asmad” named
sample (which was found to be surprisingly
based on a mixture of goethite and hematite,
is red-brown in colour and contains galena as
only a minor component of approx. 21
Figure 4. Previous XRPD data on kohls.
1...,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41 43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,...76