Maryland authorities have set a precedent in the US after succeeding in their attempts to ban the distribution of lead-based eye cosmetics in the State on the grounds that it could caus lead poisoning.
The authorities mounted a campaign back in September to ban the distribution and sale of kohl-based eye cosmetics in the State. Kohl is popular in the Middle Easter, Africa and India, where it is often used as an eye-liner on children or as a teething product for infants.
The Maryland authorities have specifically targeted a product brand name called Hashmi Surma Special, after tests it carried out showed that it contained high levels of lead that could potentially lead to poisoning, particularly in children.
In response New York-based Best Foods, distributor of such products, reached an agreement with the Maryland authorities to cease distribution of all products containing kohl - specifically the Hashmi brand.
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has already notified all Maryland health authorities over the potential effects of the product on children.
This came about in September, after two children were diagnosed with lead poisoning in the Stae because they had worn lead-based eye cosmetics.
"Lead is one of the most significant and widespread environmental hazards for children in Maryland but exposure is preventable," said Jonas Jacobson, deputy secretary MDE.
"Although there continues to be a steady decline in childhood lead exposure in Maryland, the goal of protecting children from lead poisoning in the State by 2010 will only be accomplished with the co-operation of local health departments and the public."
The MDE advised the attorney general to ban the Hashmi brand after tests it carried out showed that the brand had particularly high levels of lead. Other kohl-based cosmetic brand names that are widely sold in the US include Kajal, Al-Kajil and Surma.
Kohl is a mixture of soot and other ingredients and is said to be administered to children to both strengthen the eyes and to ward off bad spirits from children.