Mercury Poisoning From Face Cream

Health officials in California are once again reminding people not to buy or use face creams imported from Mexico and not to use any face creams containing methylmercury. Methylmercury is sometimes added to skin care products to reduce wrinkles, lighten dark spots, and brighten the skin.

This most recent reminder appears to have been prompted by the mercury poisoning of a Sacramento woman who reportedly had been using a cream that had been intentionally adulterated with the chemical. Sacramento County Public Health, or SCPH, announced on Tuesday that they were investigating the case of the woman who remains in the hospital in what doctors describe as "a semi-comatose state" after using a skin cream that had been adulterated aftermarket.

The agency's press release did not say whether the methylmercury was disclosed on the skin cream's label. It did stress, however, that the manufacturer did not include the methylmercury in the original formula. It was apparently added afterwards by a third party. SCPH did not identify that third party.

In the past decade alone California has investigated over 60 such poisonings linked to foreign brand, unlabeled or homemade skin creams containing some form of mercury. The products are often sold at flea markets.

Health officials urge anyone who has used such toiletries to seal the cream in a plastic bag and take it to a doctor for analysis. You may need medical tests for toxic mercury exposure.

Photo of toxic mercury-tainted face creams provided by Sacramento County Public Health.