Health officials with the California Department of Public Health, or CDPH, are warning folks not to use La Tía Mána skin care creams due to a risk of mercury poisoning. The agency did not say what, if anything, prompted them to test the product but disclosed that their samples tested positive for high levels of mercury.
La Tía Mána is sold mainly through flea market venders. CDPH is also warning people not to purchase unlabeled skin creams, which are also being sold by flea market vendors, because they, too, tested high for mercury.
There are no known reports of anyone being sickened by La Tía Mána but similar skin care products have poisoned people in the past. In 2014 California health officials issued a formal Health Alert after similar products from Mexico were found to exceed 200,000 parts per million, or ppm, of mercury. (The current US limit is 1 ppm.)
In some previous cases, the mercury poisonings occurred in babies and young children whose mothers had used mercury-tainted toiletries. In other cases, the victims were teens who had used the creams to treat their own skin conditions.
If you have any La Tía Mána on hand, or you recently bought (or were given) unlabeled skin creams, you are urged not to use any more of it. Also, say experts, avoid any cream or lotion that has mercury, mercurio, mercurous chloride, cinnabar, or calomel listed as ingredients.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning can include things like
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Tremors, shaking or weakness
- Tingling or numbness in hands, feet or around the mouth
If you are using or have used a suspect skin care product and think that you might be experiencing symptoms of mercury poisoning you are encouraged to see your doctor. And if you see La Tía Mána or any other mercury-containing cream on the market you are, of course, asked to report it to the CDPH’s hotline at (800) 495-3232.