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Scientists, WHO Warn Of Public Health Implications Of Proposed Mercury Ban Due To Its Use In Vaccines

“Scientists are warning officials negotiating a global treaty on mercury that banning the deadly chemical completely would be dangerous for public health because of the chemical’s use in vaccines,” the Associated Press reports. “The ban option is one of several proposals on the table for a [United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP] meeting later this month in Nairobi, but a final treaty isn’t expected until 2013,” the news service writes.

“According to the World Health Organization, mercury is one of the top 10 chemicals of public health concern and is highly toxic,” the AP writes (10/21). But the agency “is trying to prevent thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines, from being banned,” asserting that it “is not a health risk in the amounts present in vaccines,” according to the Canadian Press/CTV News (10/22). Thimerosal “is used in about 300 million shots worldwide, against diseases including flu, tetanus, hepatitis B, diphtheria and meningitis,” the AP notes (10/21).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.