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MERCURY: The facts

(CNN) -- Creams with mercury are unsafe. Heavy metals such as mercury can enter the body and stay on as a poison, affecting the bones, nervous tissue, and blood-forming system.

Along with sight or hearing loss and hand tremors, high doses of mercury can trigger personality changes, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, general fatigue, memory loss progressing to cerebral palsy, and potentially fatal kidney failure.

Mercury, particularly organic mercury, can infiltrate the placenta and harm an unborn child.

Because mercury is eliminated from the body through urine and faeces, persons who have not used the cream for six months or more are unlikely to have higher-than-normal mercury levels.

The acceptable dosage of mercury, as specified by China's "Hygenic Standards for Cosmetics", is one part per million (1 ppm).

Compiled with the help of Hong Kong's Department of Health and Chinese University chemical pathology professor Christopher Lam Wai-kei.




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