ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Amazon has pulled more than a dozen skin-lightening products with dangerous levels of mercury off its website after Minnesota public-health and environmental activists raised concerns.
The companyâ€™s change came after two groups, the BeautyWell Project and the state branch of the Sierra Club, delivered a petition on Wednesday with over 23,000 signatures to Amazonâ€™s fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org
â€œFor a large retail company selling toxic products to individuals of color, I think itâ€™s so wrong. And these are illegal products,â€ said Amira Adawe, founder of the BeautyWell Project, who has been educating women on the hazards of creams intended to lighten their skin for about eight years.
Amazon spokeswoman Cecilia Fan said sellers who use their site must follow the proper guidelines.
â€œAnd those who donâ€™t will be subject to action, including potential removal of their account. The products in question are no longer available,â€ she said in an emailed statement Friday.
Fan also pointed out the companyâ€™s policy that bans suppliers from selling hazardous products, including ones containing mercury.
On the same day of delivering the petition, the organizations also took out a full-page ad in a local newspaper demanding that the Seattle-based company stop selling toxic skin-lightening creams. The ad had three words in bold print: â€œDangerous, racist, and illegal.â€
Many such creams remain popular among some communities of color despite containing mercury. Adawe, who has worked on this issue for years locally, is now focused on targeting the retail giants.
She collaborated with the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group, in addition to the Mercury Policy Project to examine the skin-lightening creams sold on the Amazon site. Out of the 24 that were tested, 15 showed high levels of mercury.
Such products are not heavily regulated despite having illegal toxins in them, said Mary Blitzer of the local Sierra Club branch.
Adawe said in addition to public health concerns, â€œitâ€™s a racial thing that keeps encouraging that people should change their skin color, and we donâ€™t want to see that.â€
She added that the ultimate test is whether the products remain off Amazonâ€™s site for good. As of Thursday evening, all but one of the 15 products appeared to be removed from the site.