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Rapid Market Screening in Bangladesh

Rapid Market Screening in Bangladesh
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Rapid Market Screening in Bangladesh: Preliminary Report with Formative Research findings | Final RMS Report with Recommendations

Lead in the household is pervasive across the globe and leads to chronic exposures, as local customs may result in the ubiquitous use of lead-contaminated or adulterated products, such as spices, cookware, and other sources. In July 2021, GiveWell recommended a grant of $8 million to Pure Earth to work on reducing lead exposure in low- and middle-income countries. With this grant, Pure Earth is conducting Regional Rapid Marketplace Screenings (RMS) in 25 countries including Bangladesh to identify lead-containing products and prioritize countries for future interventions. This grant aims to:

  • Identify likely sources of lead exposure in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Implement interventions to reduce lead exposure from the most important sources.
  • Conduct baseline and endline analyses of blood lead levels to estimate the effect of the interventions.


In Bangladesh, the RMS project intervention started with analyzing the basic demographic and potential lead sources information through a rigorous desk review. The protocol for marketplace screenings was informed by such regional reviews of published literature on local lead (Pb) sources to inform initial sampling and analysis of products, commodities, and substances that may contain lead in the country. 

The identified potential sources from DRR were: 

  • Spices
  • Ceramics/pottery
  • Cookware from recycled aluminum
  • Medicines
  • Cosmetics 
  • Sweets
  • Toys
  • Paints 
  • Other foods and non-food items

Using the information from the DRR, the investigative officers in Bangladesh proceeded to complete formative research (FR) by screening selected markets and obtaining products for XRF testing of lead content. The initial FR screening of products in Bangladesh in turn guided a larger and more formal and comprehensive sampling and testing of selected products in the country. The first phase of the RMS study was conducted in Dhaka city in December 2021, and the second phase was in July 2022 in the three districts: Khulna, Rajshahi, and Barishal. Find here the Preliminary outcome of the RMS study. The final RMS report was published in September 12, 2023, find here the final report with recommendations.

Besides market screening, the project will also assess pregnant women’s blood lead levels (BLLs) and children’s BLLs before and after a turmeric intervention that successfully reduced the prevalence of lead-tainted turmeric in Bangladesh. The objectives of this intervention are:

  • Assess BLLs and lead exposure among children approximately 28 months old in the WASH Benefits catchment area (Mymensingh, Tangail, Kishoreganj, Gazipur) and compare these to historic BLLs in this area
  • Assess BLLs and lead exposure among pregnant women in the WASH Benefits catchment area (Mymensingh, Tangail, Kishoreganj, Gazipur) and compare these to historic BLLs in this area
  • Assess BLLs and lead exposure among children 20-40 months old in Munshiganj District and compare these to historic BLLs in this area
  • Assess household-based lead exposure sources and pathways that contribute to prenatal and child BLLs
    Assess the extent of lead chromate turmeric adulteration at markets and polishing mills


Pure Earth Bangladesh is working collaboratively with Stanford University and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), and collected blood samples for blood lead level (BLL) analysis, from a total of 1398 children and pregnant women (500 pregnant women and 898 children) living in four northern rural districts of Bangladesh: Mymensingh, Kishoreganj, Tangail, and Gazipur as well as in Munshiganj, an area close to Dhaka city. 25% of the total blood samples (a total of 350 samples; 225 children’s blood samples, and 125 pregnant women’s blood samples) will be tested using Graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GFAAS).

The team has also collected household-based environmental samples such as spices (turmeric), cosmetics, dust, soil, and water. There will be also follow-ups with turmeric producers and food safety regulators to ensure no further adulteration.