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Chinese Herbal Medicine Products Containing Lead and Mercury

This fact sheet provides information about certain herbal medicine products made in China found to contain high levels of lead or mercury.

Which Chinese herbal medicine products are known to contain lead or mercury?
Over the past several years, some herbal medicine products from China have been found to contain high levels of lead or mercury. Recently, the following lots of Emperor’s Tea Pill (concentrated) and Hepatico Extract (concentrated) were found to contain high levels of lead or mercury:
  • Emperor's Tea Pill (concentrated), made by Lanzhou Traditional Herbs. Used for natural balance.
    Lot No. 010705, Expiration Date: 7/2010
  • Hepatico Extract (concentrated), made by Lanzhou Traditional Herbs. Used to promote a healthy liver and maintain regularity.
    Lot No. 040804, Expiration Date: 8/2009
    Lot No. 100105, Expiration Date: 1/2010
    Lot No. 110604, Expiration Date: 6/2009

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene makes no representations as to the heavy metal content of other lot numbers for these products.

Why are lead and mercury dangerous?
Lead and mercury are poisonous metals that can damage the brain, nervous system, reproductive system, kidneys and/or other parts of the body. Mercury can cause birth defects. Children and pregnant women who use products containing lead or mercury are especially at risk.

What should I do if I have used these products?

Consumers should:

  • Immediately stop using these products.
  • Call a physician to request a blood lead test and mercury urine test.
  • Keep products away from children.
  • Call 311 or 212 POISONS (212-764-7667) for more information.

How can I know if a product contains lead or mercury?
It can be difficult to tell the difference between safe and dangerous herbal medicine products. A product may contain lead or mercury even if they are not listed as ingredients on the label.

What should I do if I have used a product that could contain lead or mercury?
If you are not sure of the ingredients in a product you or your children have used, stop using the products. Speak with a doctor or other health care provider about any health concerns you may have. You can also ask the doctor to order a blood lead test and urine mercury test to see if you have been exposed to these metals.

Last updated 11/20/12