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Texas woman hospitalized for mercury poisoning linked to cosmetic products purchased in Mexico

Image from AP Graphics Bank
Image from AP Graphics Bank (AP Graphics Bank)

HOUSTON – The Texas Department of State Health Services is warning consumers after a woman was hospitalized with mercury poisoning after using a cosmetic product from Mexico.

The Texas woman was hospitalized after a pharmacy in Mexico mixed a face cream, apparently adding mercury to a name brand product, according to the DSHS.

Laboratory results showed the product contained 29,000 parts per million of inorganic mercury, according to the state health department. U.S. regulations prohibit the sale of skin cream with more than 1 ppm of mercury.

Skin creams containing mercury may be available commercially or from individuals sellers in Mexico and other countries, the state health department said. The sellers may claim the creams make skin tone lighter, treat acne or fade freckles and age spots.

In the past, DSHS has found mercury in cosmetics imported from Mexico and sold in Texas at flea markets or person-to-person.

Health officials say people should only purchase skin cream and similar cosmetic products that are sealed in their original containers and sold by reputable retailers in the United States.

If someone believes they have a product that may contain mercury, seal it in a plastic bag and discard it at a household hazardous waste facility, DSHS said.

Mercury can cause serious neurological symptoms like tremors, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, depression and anxiety, according to DSHS. 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.

The Texas woman was hospitalized for about 10 days and has been discharged, DSHS reported. She is expected to recover.


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