Once we reach a certain age (and if you're reading this, I can pretty much guarantee you are there), we're susceptible to claims that products from reputable and not-so-reputable manufacturers will counter the effects of aging, especially age spots on your hands and face. Most of these anti-aging products damage only your wallet but the federal Food and Drug Administration is warning that some creams and other cosmetics may contain toxic levels of mercury.
When you're buying one of these anti-aging creams, look at the ingredients label carefully and don't buy anything that includes the following: "mercurous chloride," "calomel," "mercuric," "mercurio," or "mercury." The FDA also says you shouldn't buy a product that either doesn't list ingredients or doesn't list them in English.
This FDA alert, issued last week, was set off by the Minnesota Department of Public Health, which tested 27 products marketed as skin lighteners and found that 11 had more mercury than the FDA allows. In a few cases, the levels were thousands of times higher than FDA limits.
Some of the products had Arabic or Chinese labels.
As an added incentive to throw out any of these products if you happened to have them in your medicine cabinet, the FDA says that family members might inhale vapors from users' skin. Young children might also actually ingest mercury is they touch a users' skin and then put their fingers in their mouths.
So watch out for these products.