The Tulare County health department is warning residents about mercury-contaminated facial creams found locally at flea markets and stores.
Sacramento County health officials recently issued a warning after a woman was hospitalized in a semi-comatose state after using an anti-wrinkle cream imported from Mexico.
The skin-lightening creams are predominantly from Mexico and are marketed for the use of fading freckles, blemishes and age spots. They also are used to treat acne. Most come in plastic containers that are hand-labeled or are missing a label, the health department said in a news release on Thursday.
Mercury can be easily passed by touch to babies or young children, who are more susceptible to complications of mercury poisoning.
“The Environmental Health division can educate the community, but has no authority to enforce that these items be pulled off store shelves,” said Nilsa Gonzalez, the environmental health director for Tulare County Health and Human Services.
Which brands to avoid
Contaminated creams in Tulare County were found under these labels: Aranda Balsamo Blanco, Espinicida Voam, Formula AA Arche Peral Cream, La Crema de Rebecca, Milagrosa, Tia Mana and Ly-Na Nourish Face Cream, which is from Taiwan, the health department said.
Several unlabeled or homemade contaminated creams were also discovered, which went under names such as Crema Esparza and Crema Jimena.
Pond’s Rejuveness and Garnier SkinActive Aclarante were also found to have mercury, though the health department said the chemical was added after purchase, and not by the manufacturer.
How to know if you’ve been poisoned with mercury
Mercury poisoning may go undiagnosed, the health department said, because symptoms are non-specific.
Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, memory loss, anxiety, irritability, depression, insomnia, headaches, weight loss and fatigue. Tremors, numbness or tingling in hands feet or around the lips, and weakness in the extremities could also be present.
Children may develop pink hands and feet, peeling or shedding of the skin, excessive salivation or thirst, gingivitis, irritability, anorexia, leg cramps, hypertension or rash, the health department said.
Anyone who experiences symptoms or uses the creams is urged to contact a doctor and stop using the products.
”Our next steps involve wrap-around outreach efforts to ensure our community understands the danger of mercury poisoning from these face products,” Gonzalez said.
The health department has teamed up with Latino farmworker organizations Campesinas Unidas del Valle de San Joaquin and Vision y Compromiso to reach consumers at flea markets, stores and other places that may carry the products.
Other outreach efforts include training inspectors who conduct lead inspections at homes to ask if any products are being used by residents.