Lead content in idols 100 times above acceptable limit

Its lakes polluted beyond repair, Bengaluru cried for an eco-friendly Ganesha Chaturthi this season. But was the call for ‘Green Ganesha’ idols heeded?

A random testing has now shown that many of the idols had lead content in excess of 8,000 parts per million (ppm), way beyond the permitted limit of 90 ppm. 

Underwriter Laboratories (UL), a city-based safety science company, had randomly selected 10 idols (nine painted, one unpainted).

These were subjected to comprehensive tests for heavy metal content. All the idols selected for scrutiny were of an average height of two feet. 

The results, when assessed against Indian and international standards for toy material, showed that the paint used for aesthetic enhancement of eight idols were high in lead and other heavy metals. 

Lead, classified as a heavy metal, is used in paint, pigment, coloured material such as textiles, toys and in the metallic surface
coating on accessories and jewellery. Whether inhaled or swallowed, lead is highly poisonous, affecting almost every organ and system in the human body.  Currently, there are no regulations/standards in India for tests on Ganesha idols. Neither are any laboratories accredited for the same.

UL had to use the toy material standard as a reference to spread public awareness about the dangers of lead.

Global standards for toy material specify the maximum acceptable limit for
various elements including lead. One of the idols tested had dimensions of 25cm (height) x 18cm (length) x 14cm (width). Painted brown, peach, orange and gold, the idol
had glitter coating of gold and blue. The heavy metal content was found to hugely exceed the toy standards.

The idol’s brown base had a lead content of 265 ppm and peach body coating had 100.5 ppm. The golden glitter coating was found to contain lead content of 8,488 ppm, while Chromium was within the limit at 6.9 ppm.

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