Contact: Jhoana Molina-Villar, Public Health: 602-722-0509 (cell)
Maricopa County Department of Public Health
Warns of Mercury Poisoning Linked to Mexican Facial Cream
PHOENIX (December 1, 2011) – The Maricopa County Department of Public Health is warning the public that a number of mercury poisoning cases in the County appear to be linked to the use of Crema Aguamary, a cosmetic produced in Mexico and not approved for use in the United States.
Healthcare providers in Maricopa County have reported at least 3 patients who tested positive for elevated levels of mercury in their blood. Additionally, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has tested 2 samples of Crema Aguamary products obtained from individuals in the County. Both had elevated levels of mercury, significantly higher than permitted in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows only trace amounts of mercury less than 1 ppm in cosmetics.
“We do not have evidence that the contaminated products are being sold commercially here in Arizona,” said Dr Bob England, director of Maricopa County Public Health. “It appears that people either are purchasing the products in Mexico and bringing them across the border or possibly are ordering them online.”
Products with the highest level of mercury contamination appear noticeably gray in color. Others are lighter gray or cream colored but still may contain dangerous levels of mercury. It is unclear at this point whether the contamination is happening where the product is produced or at some other point before it gets to consumers.
Products containing mercury are a particular concern for pregnant women and nursing mothers because mercury can be passed on to children. One of the cases with high blood mercury levels in Maricopa County is an infant whose mother used Crema Aguamary products while she was pregnant.
High exposures to the type of mercury found in these products can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, muscle aches and weakness, skin rashes, sores in the mouth, mood changes, memory loss, high blood pressure and weight loss.
People who believe they may have been exposed to mercury through Crema Aguamary products should contact their healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or in Maricopa County at (602)253-3334. People who have the product in their home should dispose of the closed containers at a household hazardous waste facility. If there is no facility available in their community, the product may be tightly closed, bagged and discarded with household garbage.
A photo of two product samples that tested positive for mercury is available at: