Avoid playing Holi with chemical-based colours: Experts

New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) Health experts have urged people, especially children, to use self-prepared colours made of herbs and flowers to play Holi instead of using colours being sold in the market.

Giving advice in the light of a rise in skin and eye infection cases after Holi revelry every year, they said that mostly the Holi colours available in the market are made up of chemicals and heavy metal oxides, used for preservation purposes.

“The chemical colours in the market mainly available as paste, powder and water colour are made up of chemicals and heavy metals. Asbetos and silica normally form the base for these colours,” said Ritika Sachdev, an eye specialist and additional director of Centre for Sight, a chain of eye hospitals.

“Some of the other components used in making the colours are chromium, lead, and mercury, which are highly harmful.”

He said after every Holi, cases of various types of skin infections including lupus, blisters, Psoriasis and rashes are very common.

“Several surveys have stated that every Holi at least 5,000 to 7,000 new cases of eye and skin infections occur in the national capital. Seventy five percent of these are children,” said Sachdev.

About the presence of metals in colours, she said: “The granular particles which make the colours shine brightly are actually quite toxic and can cause damage to the cornea in the form of a corneal abrasion, which may later turn into corneal ulcers.”

Nitin S. Walia, senior consultant, Dermatology at BLK Super Speciality Hospital said these days colours are made with engine oil, diesel, acids, mica, glass powder and alkalis. All these are substances that cause damage to human body.

“People are hardly aware that these toxic colours along with the UV rays can cause a phototoxic reaction to the skin, leading to blisters and redness. Moreover, Rhodamine B is used to make gulal, mercury sulphite for red, and chromium iodide for purple among others,” said Walia.

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