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  • Health officials issue warning about mercury-containing face creams

    Jul 22, 2016 | Read More News
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    mercury-containing face creamThe Pima County Health Department (PCHD) recently learned that mercury contaminated face cream is being used by some area residents. The Health Department was contacted by a physician affiliated with the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona regarding a child who had been hospitalized with mercury poisoning on July 12.

    The Arizona Department of Health Services has been notified and the Environmental Protection Agency assessed the extent of the mercury contamination at the home.

    Mercury is highly toxic. The Health Department took immediate action to ensure the health and safety of the individuals residing in the home and the general public.

    This is what PCHD knows:
    • The investigation has shown the source of the exposure is a face cream used for lightening the skin that was purchased in Mexico. There are several skin creams and other skin products that contain mercury, or have had mercury added to them.  At this time we are aware of two brands that people should avoid, “Mireya” and “Nene Gardoqui”.
    • The Health Department is asking individuals who may have this product to discontinue its use immediately and to bring it to the City of Tucson Household Hazardous Waste Program drop off sites. 
    • The exposure that led to this investigation was isolated and involved only those who live in the home. It did not not pose a public health risk to the neighbors or the community.
    • Do not use creams containing mercury.
    • Exposure to mercury can have serious health consequences. It can damage the kidneys and the nervous system, and interfere with brain development in unborn and very young children.
    • Federal health officials warn consumers not to use skin creams, beauty and antiseptic soaps, or lotions that might contain mercury. FDA information Español
    • Check the label of any skin lightening, anti-aging or other skin product you use. If you see the words “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury,” stop using the product immediately. Not all ingredients may be listed. If you have purchased a skin cream or other skin product from Mexico and you are not sure contact the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center (800)-222-1222. Fact sheets with additional information English, or Español 
    • If you suspect you have been using a product with mercury, stop using it immediately. Thoroughly wash your hands and any other parts of your body that have come in contact with the product. Contact your health care professional or a medical care clinic. If you have questions, you can call the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at 800-222-1222.
    • If you have any products that may contain mercury, it is important to properly dispose of this hazardous waste. Do not throw out in the trash or down the drain.

    Proper Disposal information

    If you have any products that may contain mercury, it is important to properly dispose of this hazardous waste. Do not throw out in the trash or down the drain. Instead, bring to a City of Tucson Household Hazardous Waste Program (HHW) drop-off site.

    Label the container as containing mercury BEFORE you take it to one of these HHW drop-off sites:

    Main Site, 2440 W. Sweetwater Dr.
    Open Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. -  noon

    Los Reales Landfill, 5300 E. Los Reales Rd.
    Open Tuesday - Saturday 8 a.m. -  4:30 p.m.

    Drop-off eligibility and fees:
    To be eligible to drop off materials, verification of address is required, preferably a driver’s license or other documents showing permanent residency.

    Program is free to residents of the City of Tucson. Residents from outside the city limits including Marana, Oro Valley, Sahuarita and unincorporated Pima County will be charged a $10 fee per visit.

    If the disposal fee presents a hardship, please contact the Pima County Health Department at (520) 724-7729.

    Home Pick-up  
    If you cannot drop materials off, you can request a home pick-up for a fee of $25 which will be added to your monthly bill. Call Customer Service at 520-791-3171 or submit an online service request.

    For more information about mercury poisoning, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. Find additional information regarding mercury-containing face creams on this fact sheet.

    Return to Pima County FYI