RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, a woman was hospitalized after suffering from mercury poisoning that was linked to a cosmetic purchase in Mexico.
A pharmacy in Mexico mixed the face cream for her and added mercury. A laboratory test showed that the face cream contained 29,000 parts per million (PPM) of inorganic mercury, the U.S. currently prohibits the sale of skin cream with more than 1 PPM of mercury.
Skin creams containing mercury may be available commercially or from individual sellers in Mexico and other countries. In the past, these products have been imported from Mexico and sold in Texas at flea markets or person to person.
Side effects of mercury poisoning include serious neurological symptoms like tremors, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, depression, and anxiety. Other symptoms include headaches, high blood pressure, fatigue, and numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, and lips.
Long-term exposure can result in damage to the nervous system, digestive tract, and kidneys. Mercury can be passed from mother to child before birth or through breastmilk.
According to the DSHS, the mercury is being added by third parties and not the commercial manufacturer. As such the DSHS recommends not using skin creams purchased in Mexico that are:
- Unsealed when purchased
- Purchased from somewhere other than a major retail store
If you believe you have a product that may contain mercury, seal it in a plastic bag and discard it at a household hazardous waste facility.
The Texas woman was hospitalized for 10 days and has since been discharged and is expected to recover.