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Amazon Removes 14 Skin-Lightening Products from Site

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Activists urge Amazon to remove skin-lightening products from website due to toxic mercury levels.

According to an MPR News article, after receiving pressure from the BeautyWell Project and the Minnesota branch of the Sierra Club, Amazon has removed 14 skin-lightening products from its site due to toxic levels of mercury. Last week, the organizations delivered a petition, signed more than 23,000 times, to Amazon’s fulfillment center.

Extending the pressure, the groups also published a full-page ad in the Star Tribune urging Amazon to remove the products. The ad reads, “Dangerous, racist and illegal” in bold print and states the skin-lightening products contain toxic levels of mercury.

The World Health Organization warns mercury can cause damage to the nervous system, kidneys and cause pregnancy complications. The BeautyWell Project and Sierra Club worked with the Mercury Policy Project to test the skin-lightening creams from Amazon, and 15 out of 24 had high levels of mercury. None of the products list mercury on the label.

An Amazon spokesperson told MPR News, “All Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account. The products in question are no longer available.”

“For a large retail company selling toxic products to individuals of color, I think it's so wrong, and these are illegal products,” said Amira Adawe, founder of the BeautyWell Project.

Adawe continued, “It's a racial thing that keeps encouraging that people should change their skin color, and we don't want to see that.”