State health officials have traced 18 cases of mercury poisoning in South Texas to a face cream sold in Mexico.
Two of the cases are infants whose mothers used Crema Aguamary products while they were pregnant, according to a press release from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Samples of Crema Aguamary face cream contained mercury at levels from 56,000 to 131,000 parts per million. Tests of Crema Aguamary eye cream showed levels from 240 to 6,700 ppm, officials said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows less than 1 ppm of mercury in such products.
The state has not found evidence that the products are being distributed in the U.S. Instead, people have reported buying the product in Mexico and bringing it back to Texas.
Denton County health officials have not seen any cases of mercury poisoning locally, but were concerned enough about the outbreak to repeat the state's warning this week.
"A large number of our residents travel to and from Mexico, so we are worried about them buying it and bringing it back and using it," said Betsy Haggard, county health department spokeswoman. "We just want our residents to be aware."
State officials were also concerned that the product could be obtained online. On a YouTube channel, the makers of Crema Aguamary advertise in English, touting the product as able to smooth out skin discolorations, such as age spots, sun damage and the "stain of pregnancy."
The makers listed the formula on the YouTube channel as vitamin E, royal jelly, collagen, placenta and "other natural ingredients."
It was unclear whether the product was tainted with mercury during its production or at some other point, according to state health officials.
The tainted creams were noticeably gray in color, although lighter gray and cream colored creams could also be tainted, state health officials said.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning include extreme fatigue, muscle aches and weakness, skin rashes, sores in the mouth, mood changes, memory loss, high blood pressure and weight loss. Long-term damage can affect the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system and kidneys.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.