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Health Department cautions of potential lead poisoning risk with imported makeup

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department’s Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program warns residents that use of thanakha, an imported medicinal or cosmetic product, may increase the risk of lead poisoning. This product is currently linked to at least one local case of childhood lead poisoning.

Thanakha, also spelled as thanaka or tanaka, is predominantly sold in ethnic stores or online. Its packaging may lack information about the product’s manufacturer or distributor. It can be purchased in a paste form or as a powder to be mixed with water. It is traditionally used to treat or prevent acne, as a sunscreen and as a cosmetic.

“Imported makeup such as thanakha has frequently been found to be contaminated with lead,” said Amy Roberts, R.N., manager of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. “If you have this product, you should stop using it, throw it away, and only use products with ingredients clearly labeled on the container. You should also get a blood lead test.”

The contaminated product found in Kansas City was in a silver-colored metal container with a cardboard cover picturing a woman wearing a pink dress. The label was written in Burmese and translates to, “Sondraque, in the Myanmar tradition, the princess uses Thanakha.”

Lead exposure can cause serious health effects including brain damage, kidney damage, cardiovascular damage and learning disabilities. High doses of lead may cause seizures and death.

For more information about thanakha, contact the Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 816-513-6048. Because this is part of a medical investigation, information specific to the lead-poisoned child is not available.

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