Woman hospitalized after using mercury-tainted facial cream

Sacramento woman in semi-comatose state

By Madeline Holcombe, CNN

(CNN) - A Sacramento woman has been hospitalized after using a facial cream tainted with methylmercury, the Sacramento County Department of Health Services said in a news release.

The woman is currently in a semicomatose state after using a Pond's-labeled skin cream she obtained through an informal network that imported the cream from Mexico, the health services department said.

"The mercury was not added by the Pond's manufacturer, but by a third party after purchase," the news release said.

Methylmercury can cause symptoms such as memory loss, anxiety, depression, headaches and tremors, the statement said.

The tainted product was used as a skin lightener and to remove spots and wrinkles, according to the statement.

Pond's said in a statement that the company does not use mercury in its products and is working closely with authorized retailers to ensure available products are safe.

"The product in question is not sold in the U.S. We are concerned about the woman who had this experience and are working with authorities to investigate the matter," the company's statement said. "We strongly recommend only purchasing POND'S products from trusted retailers."

This is the first reported case of methylmercury poisoning of this type linked to skin cream in the US. But in California over the last nine years, there have been more than 60 poisonings linked to foreign brand, unlabeled and homemade skin creams that contained mercurous chloride or calomel, the less toxic form of mercury, the health services department's statement said.

CNN's Sarah Moon contributed to this report.

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