Dangerous Levels of Mercury Found in Some Skin-Care Products Bought on Amazon and eBay

A very interesting finding was published in “Allure’ last Saturday:

Dermatologists and cosmetic chemists weigh in on the issue — and how to detect the ingredient in your products.BY REBECCA DANCER

You may have heard that mercury can lurk in things like sushi and dental fillings, but it turns out that dangerous levels of this toxic heavy metal can also be found in skin-care products, particularly those from foreign countries. And while that last part may make you breathe a sigh of relief, there’s still plenty of reason to be cautious about what you’re applying onto your skin. Even though skin-care products containing an abundance of mercury aren’t made in or technically available for sale in the U.S., it’s possible they could still be purchased and shipped straight to your doorstep via online retailers like Amazon and eBay. This was the case when advocacy groups recently purchased products for testing.

What’s the deal with mercury in skin-care products?

Recently, 51 advocacy groups sent public action letters to both e-commerce giants, calling on them to “stop marketing illegal mercury-laden cosmetics” and “to ensure that cosmetics found to have mercury levels over 1ppm are no longer offered for sale” after testing revealed that many of them contained extremely high levels of mercury. For context, in the U.S., the legal limit of mercury that can be present in cosmetics formulas, which was set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in 1973, is just one part per million (ppm).

According to the letters sent to Amazon and eBay, skin-care creams were purchased by some of the advocacy groups and their mercury levels were tested. Shockingly, one of the test results revealed mercury levels 30,000 times the legal limit.

Why is this an issue?

“Most Americans are aware that mercury is dangerous, but many people don’t realize that [it’s] sometimes used as the active ingredient in skin-lightening creams,” explains Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which was one of the advocacy groups behind the letters and who issued a press release about the findings. “Mercury cannot be used more than 1ppm in skin creams, but the FDA lacks resources to adequately police the marketplace.”

In conclusion, do read all ingredients on the packaging. If they are not listed, which they should, do ask the manufacturer for the ingredients. Make sure you know what you put on your skin!

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