NGOs call out Amazon and Ebay for selling mercury-laden skincare

Amazon and Ebay are in the crosshairs of over 50 environmental NGOs, who have accused the companies of selling mercury-laden cosmetics and skincare products. 


Mercury is a common ingredient in skin-lightening and anti-aging products manufactured abroad. - Via Amazon

In an initiative led by The Mercury Policy Project (MPP), an international coalition of over 95 public interest, environmental and health groups, the activist NGOs sent letters to Amazon and eBay after allegedly identifying 19 skin lightening creams sold on both sites that contain what they call "illegal mercury levels."

According to the MPP, these creams have mercury levels "thousands of times higher than the legal limit of 1 part per million (ppm)" allowed in the U.S. 

In tests conducted by the MPP and environmental NGO the Sierra Club, these cosmetics – including Sandal Whitening Beauty Cream, Face Fresh Beauty Cream, and others – were found to have mercury levels up to 20,000 ppm. 

Mercury, which can suppress melanin production, is a common ingredient in skin-lightening and anti-aging products manufactured abroad, and is often listed as “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” and “mercurio,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

In high doses or through prolonged use, mercury can cause lung damage, neurological disturbances, memory problems, skin rashes, discoloration and scarring, as well as kidney abnormalities, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. 

In their letters, the MPP and its supporters emphasized that these products have been banned by the New York City Department of Health, yet are still available for purchase via Ebay and Amazon's online platforms, as the FDA does not currently have sufficient powers to effectively police online sales. 

"Internet moguls must stop breaking the law and exposing NYC residents and others with their toxic trade in illegal cosmetics," said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project.  "At the same time, the FDA must enforce – no matter how big, no one is above the law."

Neither Ebay nor Amazon have released an official response. 

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