3 comments to “Global Treaty to Curb Mercury–Except When It Comes to Children’s Vaccines”

  1. Eric Uram and Sallie Bernard

    Thank-you Fair Warning for reporting on this important childhood development issue, and for highlighting the central culpability in WHO’s insistence that countries retain thimerosal as a preservative in all WHO-sanctioned vaccine programs.

    The concern over thimerosal in infant vaccines surfaced in 1999, shortly before the US removed thimerosal from infant vaccines (except the multi-dose versions of the injectable seasonal flu vaccine and in trace amounts in DTaP). The EU countries recognized thimerosal’s potential for harm even earlier and have taken measures to prevent its use. Thus, for well over a decade, WHO has been warned they should take steps to move to preservative-free or alternatively-preserved vaccines for all formulations. In that time, they have done nothing to promote this transition.

    WHO self-determines formulations for all their vaccines. These approved vaccines become the only ones WHO (or supporting programs) underwrite or provide to countries in WHO vaccine programs. As a result, WHO’s current policies prevent development of affordable thimerosal-free vaccine formulations from ever being introduced, even though manufacturers have offered them to WHO, and indicated demand for thimerosal-free vaccines could be met at a reasonable cost once production ramps up.

    Certainly, the many areas covered by WHO programs where logistics would allow thimerosal-free vaccine use should allow their purchase under the WHO programs. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even though proposals for a phased-in approach would have allowed for thimerosal-free vaccines to be used wherever feasible. WHO and others appear to want to move in the wrong direction when it comes to reducing toxic mercury exposures in infants born in these nations.

    Even though the story mentions a WHO report indicating only 1.2 metric tons were used in thimerosal production in 2011, this estimate likely misses the rapidly growing use of thimerosal in livestock production or the mercury finding its way into pharmaceutical and personal care products as formulations similar to thimerosal, but not as the proprietary formulation of thimerosal.

    In addition, thimerosal exposure is direct (by-passing the body’s detox mechanisms in an unaltered form). This has triggered increasing concerns about its interactions with existing body burdens of mercury or other neurotoxins, especially in sensitized individuals. These more-sensitive people are an increasing segment of the population – paralleling the increases seen in food allergies and asthma. On top of that let’s not forget, mercury also acts as an endocrine disruptor.

    Given all of the toxicants infants are exposed to in any country (especially those without strong environmental safeguards) including additional mercury from other sources – keeping mercury in most, if not all, childhood vaccines used under WHO programs is unconscionable. WHO – and our WHO-supportive AAP – should be ashamed.

  2. Pete

    You don’t even need to analyze the vials Joe. It says right on the labels that they contain 0.01% thimerosal. Thimerosal is 50% mercury. That puts the mercury level at 0.005%. Unfortunately, mercury is toxic at part per billion (ppb) levels. A 0.005% mercury solution is equal to 50,000 ppb. That is how they fool the masses. That is how they fool the pediatricians.

  3. Joe

    Here are the facts. Decide for yourself if this article is accurate.

    0.5 parts per billion (ppb) mercury = Kills human neuroblastoma cells (Parran et al., Toxicol Sci 2005; 86: 132-140).

    2 ppb mercury = U.S. EPA limit for drinking water (http://www.epa. gov/safewater/ contaminants/ index.html# mcls).

    20 ppb mercury = Neurite membrane structure destroyed (Leong et al., Neuroreport 2001; 12: 733-37). Think Alzheimer’s!

    200 ppb mercury = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste based on toxicity characteristics.

    25,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose Hepatitis B vaccine vials.

    50,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in all other multi-dose vaccine vials. This can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi-dose vials for total mercury.

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