Using herbal colours to celebrate Holi festival is not as safe as one would think. Tests by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board on colours picked randomly from markets in Mumbai showed presence of heavy metals in all colours, including herbal ones. Exposure to even small quantities of heavy metals can cause nerve disorders.
Activists have asked the Maharashtra government to notify mandatory labelling of these products and specify permissible limits of synthetic chemicals and metals to eliminate use of heavy metals. “Natural colours are not legally defined, hence people are misled into buying herbal colours with toxic metals,” said Sumaira Abdulali of Mumbai non-profit Awaaz Foundation.