The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a critical consumer safety advisory concerning the utilization of skincare products containing mercury. This warning encompasses a broad spectrum of items, including cosmetics, lotions, soaps, and various beauty products that may potentially contain this hazardous element. Exposure to mercury poses severe health risks, such as mercury poisoning and elevated mercury levels within the body. These dangers are particularly pronounced in the cases of infants and young children, whose cognitive development is ongoing, as well as pregnant women.
The products containing mercury are often marketed as “skin-lightening” or “anti-aging” solutions, promising to eliminate age spots, freckles, and wrinkles. Additionally, these products may target teenagers as a remedy for blemishes and acne.
Products incorporating these hazardous ingredients are often manufactured outside the United States and are illicitly distributed through various channels, including physical stores, mobile applications, social media platforms, and online marketplaces.
The FDA strongly advises consumers to meticulously scrutinize all skincare product labels and promptly cease using any product listing ingredients such as “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury.” It is unwise to presume that a skincare product is devoid of mercury merely due to the absence of ingredient details or product labeling. In fact, it is advisable to exercise caution and discontinue the use of any product that lacks a label or ingredient list, as this non-compliance contravenes federal law, which mandates the disclosure of ingredients on all cosmetic and non-prescription drug product labels.
The hazards associated with mercury toxicity extend beyond the individual using the product and can adversely affect those in proximity to the user. Mercury toxicity may arise from inhaling mercury vapors or absorbing the substance through the skin after contact with a person employing a mercury-containing product. This risk also exists when coming into contact with towels or clothing exposed to mercury.
If you determine that you have been using skincare products containing mercury, it is imperative to cease their use immediately and consult your healthcare provider for guidance on evaluating your level of exposure and related health risks. Queries can also be directed to the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Before disposing of products containing mercury, the FDA underscores the importance of securely sealing them in a leak-proof bag or container and reaching out to local authorities or waste disposal providers for guidance on the appropriate disposal of such items.