California tests face creams after mercury poisoning leaves woman comatose

This photo was released by Sacramento County Department of Health Services.

A California woman was hospitalized after using a mercury-tainted skin cream from Mexico, the first case of its kind reported in the U.S.

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The Sacramento resident, who lapsed into a semi-comatose state, had applied a Pond’s-labeled lotion that was imported through an informal network, according to a statement from the Sacramento County Department of Health Services.

The poisonous form of mercury, which is used in fluorescent lights and batteries and can damage the brain and spinal cord, wasn't added by Pond’s, but by a third party after purchase, according to the department. Sacramento County Public Health, which couldn't confirm when or how, is working with the state health department to test similar creams in the area for methylmercury.

Over the past nine years, there have been over 60 poisonings in California linked to foreign brand, unlabeled and/ or homemade skin creams containing a less toxic form of mercury — mercurious chloride, which is also known as calomel, according to the release.

“Sacramento County Public Health urges the community to immediately stop using similar skin creams imported from Mexico due to the risk of contamination with methylmercury. Methylmercury is extremely dangerous to adults and children.”


Unilever, which owns the Pond's brand, said it takes the matter very seriously and works with all authorized retailers to be sure its products are kept intact and safe for use "from shipment to shelf."

llegitimate sales, tampering and reselling "are beauty industry issues that deserve close attention and consumer awareness," a Unilever spokesperson said. "We are concerned about the woman who had this experience and are working with authorities to investigate."

Additionally, the company told FOX Business that all Unilever and Pond’s products, including those produced in the company's Mexico plant, are all produced to be safe when used as intended.


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