Treaty to Curb Mercury -- Except When It Comes to Children’s Vaccines

In January 2013, representatives of some 140 nations met in Geneva to finish a treaty to minimize emissions of mercury. In the end, they gave an exemption to the use of a mercury compound, thimerosol, as a preservative in some children's vaccines.

"Mercury is notorious for damaging the developing brains and nervous systems of babies and children. Concern about the serious effects of mercury pollution brought delegates from more than 140 nations to Geneva this January to put the finishing touches on a global treaty to minimize emissions. But there’s a form of mercury that the treaty won’t touch – one that is injected, in tiny amounts, straight into young kids’ bodies.

Some common vaccines that prevent such diseases as diphtheria, whooping cough and meningitis contain thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that fights bacteria and fungi. Thimerosal is also used in the production of certain vaccines, which retain trace amounts of the compound.

Ethylmercury, the form of the element used in thimerosal, is known to be toxic at high doses. And during the treaty negotiations representatives from several nations and advocacy groups argued that it should be phased out.

In the end, though, the national delegates who spoke up for eliminating thimerosal backed off and the treaty — which will be ready for signing at an October meeting in Japan — exempted the substance.
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Rebecca Kessler reports for Fair Warning June 27, 2013.

Source: Fair Warning, 06/27/2013