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Household mercury containing products that could be harmful to your health

Updated on August 24, 2008

What is Mercury anyways

What is mercury? Mercury is a poisonous metal. Mercury can damage your brain, nervous system, and kidneys. Exposure can cause symptoms, such as, tremors, irritability, and memory loss.

Mercury-containing soaps and creams can damage your health and skin. These soaps and creams are used mainly for lightening and disinfecting.

Why is mercury added to these soaps and creams? - Although not usually promoted by the manufacturer, these items are widely used by people to try to lighten skin color. - They are marketed as disinfectants (preventing cuts or scrapes from becoming infected), and for many other so called benefits (such as deodorants, to stop heat rash and acne, for dandruff, to kill lice, and to relieve blisters)

Why are mercury-containing soaps and creams harmful? - The mercury in these items are absorbed through your skin and may cause health effects. - These items may also damage your skin and cause rashes, pain, and blotchy spots.

Where are mercury-containing soaps and creams being sold? - Although th are banned in the U.S., these items are being sold in many stores throughout the New York metropolitan area, as well as on the Internet. - Many of these items are made in the Dominican Republic and European countries and are exported. - The soaps are sold as individually boxed bars. - Creams are sold in small tubes or jars.

How would you know if a soap or cream contains mercury? - The amount of mercury is sometimes identified on the packaging. - Some soaps and creams may not be labeled correctly. Check packaging materials and any instructions or ingredient lists carefully. You can look for:

  • Hg (the chemical symbol for mercury) or the word 'mercury'
    • Mercuric iodide, mercuric chloride, mercurous chloride, ammoniated mercury, amide chloride of mercury, mercury oxide
    • Instructions to avoid contact with silver, gold, rubber, aluminum, and jewelry
    • The word 'Poison'

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