The California Department of Public Health reported to the FDA that a 39-year-old woman presented with more than 100 times the average amount of mercury in her urine and symptoms of mercury poisoning. For three years the woman and her husband had been using an unlabeled mercury-containing face cream that was brought in from Mexico by a relative. Several other family members who did not use the cream, including a four-year-old child, also had elevated levels of mercury. Virginia, Maryland and New York have reported similar cases. Products containing mercury have recently been found in seven states.
Make sure there is no mercury content in your skin lightener, anti-aging treatment or acne remedy, or any product that claims to remove age spots, freckles, blemishes and wrinkles. These products are frequently sold online and in Latino, Asian, African or Middle Eastern neighborhoods. Many of these products enter the United States through international mail and personal baggage.
Here is how the FDA recommends that you protect yourself:
?Check the label of any skin lightening, anti-aging or other skin product you use. If you see the words “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury,” stop using the product immediately.
?If there is no label or no ingredients are listed, do not use the product.
?Do not use products labeled in languages other than English unless there is also English labeling.
?If you suspect you have been using a product with mercury, stop using it immediately. Wash your hands and any other parts of your body that have come in contact with the product. Contact your health care professional or a medical care clinic for advice.
?If you have questions, call your health care professional or the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
FDA investigations in the past few years have turned up more than 35 products that contain unacceptable levels of mercury. That’s why it’s so important that consumers and sellers know about the dangers of possible mercury poisoning associated with these skin products.
“Exposure to mercury can have serious health consequences, damaging the kidneys and the nervous system and interfering with development of the brain in unborn and very young children” warns a senior FDA medical official. Children can be adversely affected from breathing in mercury vapors or touching a parent who uses these products and then putting their fingers into their mouths.