In California, over the last nine years, there have been over 60 poisonings linked to foreign brand, unlabeled, and/or homemade skin creams that contained the less toxic form of mercury, mercurous chloride or calomel. You should avoid handmade or unlabeled creams and other brand-name containers that are not sealed when purchased. Unsealed containers could have been tampered with and may contain mercury. People use these types of creams for fading freckles, blemishes, and age spots; treating acne; and lightening the skin. These creams are usually sold in small stores, swap meets, by individuals, or on the internet.
In earlier poisonings linked with imported skin cream, several children and babies who were not cream users became very sick from contact with mercury contamination in their homes or through contact with family members who used the products. Children and pregnant women are especially sensitive to the toxic effects of mercury. Some of these products contain more than 200,000 times the legal limit of mercury.
General Signs and Symptoms
- Difficulty concentrating, memory loss
- Nervousness, irritability, anxiety
- Depression, insomnia
- Weight loss, fatigue
- Tremors, numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or around the lips
Children with Prolonged Exposure
- Pink hands and feet
- Skin flaking
- Excessive saliva or thrist, gum disease
- Irritability, poor appetite
- Poor muscle tone, leg cramps
- High blood pressure, rash
Anyone using these creams should stop using them and get a blood and urine test from their doctor or care provider. They should put these creams in a closed Ziploc bag and contact the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) at (510) 981-4354 or AskEHIB@cdph.ca.gov.
Pond's Rejuveness Products
- All "Pond's Rejuveness" products are made in Mexico.
- Some are specifically made for USA distribution, with a bilingual label.
- Some are made for Mexican and Latin American distribution, with a Spanish-only label.
- All "Pond's Rejuveness" products have a protective foil seal.
- If your product does not have a protective foil seal under the lid, it may be adulterated with mercury.
- For more information, please contact the Unilever Customer Engagement Center at (800) 909-9493 (8:30 am EST to 9:00 pm EST).
To report a cream, contact CDPH's Environmental Health Investigations Branch (EHIB):
For more information:
- Visit the CDPH EHIB Mercury Skin Cream website, contact CDPH EHIB and leave a message at (510) 981-4354, or email AskEHIB@cdph.ca.gov
- Contact Poison Control at (800) 222-1222
- Contact Sacramento County Public Health at (916) 875-5881
The photos below show some skin creams that have tested positive for mercury.