Amazon UK has pulled two skin lightening creams from sale after they were found to illegally contain mercury.
The products – Chandni Whitening Cream and Golden Pearl Whitening Beauty Cream – contained 11,928 ppm (parts per million) and 10.515 ppm respectively, exceeding the legal limits of 1ppm, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said.
They were among 95 skin lightening products bought in 12 countries found to contain banned mercury – a heavy metal and dangerous neurotoxin – according to research published by a global alliance of NGOs working to eliminate mercury pollution.
Testing found mercury levels ranged from 40 ppm to over 130,000 ppm.
More than two thirds of the creams – 65 out of 95 – were bought online from such online marketplaces including Amazon and eBay.
Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, project manager at the EEB and international co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group, said: “Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin which must be effectively controlled.
“Internet retailers like Amazon and eBay must stop these illegal products from being sold on their sites, as they have recently pledged to do in the EU.”
A spokesman for Amazon UK 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.
“The products in question are no longer available.”
More than 110 countries have committed to the Minamata Convention to phase out and limit mercury, including in cosmetics.
Mercury Policy Project director Michael Bender said: “Despite these illegal high mercury products being essentially banned by governments around the globe, our testing result shows the same products continuing to be sold locally and on the internet.
“In particular, e-commerce giants are not above the law and must be held accountable.”
The EEB’s report follows Amazon pulling more than a dozen skin-lightening products with dangerous levels of mercury off its US website after a petition garnered more than 23,000 signatures.
The move was spurred by protests that started in Minnesota, where public health and environmental activists have spent years campaigning against the “dangerous, racist, and illegal” face creams.
It also follows concerns raised separately in recent days by Which? and the safety charity Electrical Safety First that Amazon UK and eBay have allowed the listings of unsafe toys and electrical products.