Since July, a 47-year-old California woman has been confined in a hospital after having trouble walking, experiencing numbness in her hands, and experiencing slurred speech. At first, she could still respond to verbal commands. However, she is now in a semi-comatose state.
Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, culture, and history, reported that the cause of the woman’s condition was an imported anti-wrinkle cream known as Pond’s Rejuveness. The cream, which was sold in Mexico and which she bought through an informal network of friends, was tainted with mercury. The officials found out that the particular skin cream contained high levels of a toxic form of mercury known as methylmercury. However, the mercury was not added by the Pond’s manufacturer, but a third party.
|Photo Credit: KCRA (via Live Science)|
According to the Sacramento County Department of Health Services, this is the first known case of methylmercury poisoning linked to a skin cream in the US. Mercury can stop the production of the skin pigment melanin. It can also remove age spots and lighten skin. Reports show that it is still unclear how the methylmercury got into the woman's skin cream, if it was just a mistake or if someone purposely added it. The National Institutes of Health stated that methylmercury can form when bacteria react with the metal mercury in water, soil, or plants.
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NBCNews, the news division of the American broadcast television network NBC, states that the woman was found to have more than 500 times the acceptable amount of mercury in her blood. Dr. Olivia Kasirye, health officer of the Sacramento County Public Health Officer, stated that medications can’t take out the mercury in the woman’s body.
In a statement, Pond's said: "We do not use mercury in our products. We take this matter very seriously and work closely with all authorized retailers to be sure products remain intact and safe for use from shipment to shelf."