THE WHAT? Amazon and eBay are facing accusations of selling cosmetics products that feature high mercury levels, according to a report by Bloomberg.
THE DETAILS The discovery was made by activist groups including the Sierra Club, which raised the alarm after purchasing 158 skin lightening products, 60 percent of which were found to contain the high levels of mercury.
The products were purchased from eBay and Amazon marketplaces from 12 countries including the U.S., with many of the brands already known to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies for mercury contamination.
Sonya Lunder, spokeswoman for the Sierra Club, stated, “One major problem is that none of the products list mercury as an ingredient on the label, so it is impossible for an individual to know the product could be deadly.”
Sierra Club worked in collaboration with Zero Mercury Working Group and The Beautywell Project on product tests.
Stating that the products are prohibited and removed from the site, an Amazon spokesperson said, “All Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account.”
eBay stated, “Consumers can shop EBay’s 1-plus-billion items with confidence, knowing we have key partnerships and processes in place with product manufacturers and regulators to ensure a safe shopping experience.”
THE WHY? The discovery of mercury-laced cosmetics highlights the ongoing dangers of purchasing products on third party marketplaces.
Talking to Bloomberg, Janet Nudelman, Director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics launched by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, said, “This is really just the tip of the iceberg of a much bigger problem. The real problem is big companies like Amazon don’t have adequate processes in place to make sure the beauty products they are selling are safe, so watchdog groups have to police the site for them.”