Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Inset: whitening cream with excessive mercury. Photo: Google Maps, Hong Kong Government

The Hong Kong Center for Health Protection has warned the public not to buy or use a whitening cream that may contain excessive mercury, thus posing a health risk.

A 26-year-old woman who had a good health record began developing generalized edema in late December, according to a government release issued on Wednesday. The woman had been using a whitening cream she had bought in a shop in Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, for three months, Oriental Daily reported.

Her urine sample revealed a mercury level 9,456 times the acceptable reference level, and this was suspected to be related to her use of this particular whitener. The government release included photos of the whitener she had used (shown above), and warned people not to buy it.

“The case has also been referred to the relevant law-enforcement agency for follow-up and investigation,” the release said.

The health center said chronic exposure to mercury can cause damage to the nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms may include tremors, irritability, insomnia, deterioration of memory, difficulty in concentration, impaired hearing and vision, and changes in taste function. In severe cases, renal failure may occur.

Read: Filipinos warned not to use highly toxic face cream

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