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California woman’s fatal hemorrhoid cream poisoning highlights lead risks

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The fatal poisoning of a California resident who ordered Vietnamese herbal ointment for hemorrhoids online is a recent example of the presence of lead – a dangerous and toxic metal – in imported products. The past few months’ list included products ranging from applesauce, ground cinnamon and bracelets for goblets, Bottles of water And dark chocolate.

Local authorities have issued a public health alert after a Sacramento woman developed severe lead poisoning and died after using a hemorrhoid ointment from Vietnam called Cao Boi Tri Cay Thau Dau. The California Department of Public Health tested a sample of the ointment and found it contained what it described as “a very dangerous amount of lead,” or 4 percent, according to the county alert.

The deceased woman purchased the ointment on Facebook and it was sent to the United States by a relative in Vietnam, the agency said in a news release. It was not immediately clear whether people could buy the ointment directly in the United States. But all consumers with the ointment should stop using it and have their blood tested for lead, California health authorities advised.

The product is marketed primarily through Vietnamese-language Facebook groups as a so-called “miracle” treatment for hemorrhoids, according to an article published by Calaveras County Public Health in California.

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Alert issued by Calaveras County Public Health.

Calaveras County Public Health


The Food and Drug Administration did not respond to a request for comment.

Lead-based paint has been banned in the United States since 1978, but the metal can show up when paint peels or cracks in homes built before that date, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet lead can also be found in some products such as toys, jewelry, candy or traditional home remedies and has been detected in drinking water and in soil contaminated by industrial and other sources, the agency said. ‘agency.

The metal has been found in some spices imported from countries including Vietnam, India and Syria, as well as in powders and tablets administered to treat conditions ranging from arthritis to menstrual cramps, the CDC noted.

The first three months of the year saw a worrying number of consumer warnings and/or recalls of products contaminated with the toxin, including croquet sets made in India and sold on Amazon, jewelry made in China and sold in Skechers stores nationwide and children’s tiaras. encrusted with lead-tinted rhinestones, made in China and sold on Amazon.

Advocacy groups have long been sounding the alarm about lead. A study released in September by Pure Earth, an international nonprofit, found excess lead levels in 18% of more than 5,000 consumer and food products from 70 markets in 25 countries.

“Lead pollution knows no boundaries,” Richard Fuller, president of Pure Earth, said in a statement announcing the study. “Our research indicates that hundreds of millions of people have elevated blood lead levels due to continuous, long-term exposure to household sources of lead, increasing serious health risks throughout life. .More people die from cardiovascular disease caused by exposure to lead than from cholesterol.”


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According to experts, long-term exposure to even small amounts of heavy metals can lead to many health problems, including developmental and brain development problems in young children.

Most people do not have obvious immediate symptoms of lead exposure, but prolonged exposure to metals is considered dangerous. Exposure to lead in utero, infancy and early childhood can lead to harmful neurological effects such as learning and behavioral disorders and lowered IQ. In adults, chronic lead exposure is linked to renal dysfunction, hypertension, and neurocognitive effects.

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