The New York City Health Department warns that an illegal aphrodisiac known as stone can cause serious poisonings and death.

Last week, an area hospital alerted the New York City Poison Control Center that a man had died after ingesting the aphrodisiac. Similar products were linked to poisonings and deaths during the 1990s.

The product is also known as Piedra, Jamaican Stone, Love Stone, Black Stone or Chinese Rock.

Stone, a hard dark brown substance, is typically sold as a solid chunk less than a square inch in size. It may be packaged in a clear plastic bag with some labeling. The product is sold in some adult stores and can also be found in other neighborhood stores.

Its active ingredients include several chemicals known as bufadienolides. They are derived from toad venom and some trees and can disrupt the normal rhythm of the heart.

Stone can cause serious heart problems or death when ingested, but can also be harmful when applied to the skin its typical use. Symptoms of poisoning may include chest pain, abdominal pain and vomiting.

The Health Department advises people who may have obtained and used these products to:

• Immediately stop using them.

• Wrap and discard them as garbage (do not flush down the toilet).

• If you suspect poisoning, call the Poison Control Center at (212) POISONS. Spanish- speaking callers can call (212) VENENOS. Interpretation services are available.

These products are banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but are imported illegally. Selling them in New York City is also a violation of the New York City Health Code.

The Health Department has sent an alert to health care providers in New York City, asking them to watch for potential poisonings and to call Poison Control if they suspect a case. The agency is also working with federal authorities to require distributors and store owners to stop selling these products and remove them from shelves and inventory stockrooms.