Eric Uram, Executive Director at, Responds to the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics' Support for Continued Use of Mercury in Vaccines

Published: Jan 07, 2013

[Madison, WI - January 7, 2013] - In an unprecedented reversal of efforts for decreasing known toxic exposures to children, the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics have issued statements opposing any limitations on the use of the mercury preservative Thimerosal® in infant and childhood vaccines. These organizations, while supporting the elimination of all other potential mercury exposures, oppose language limiting mercury in medicine in the negotiations for an international mercury treaty, despite delegates' desire to include it. As a result, WHO and AAP are not only signaling tacit approval to industry for continued use of Thimerosal, but also development of new mercury-containing pharmaceutical products and the reintroduction of mercury into medications where its use had previously been eliminated. SafeMinds notes that nothing in EU or US regulations currently prevents such increases in use from occurring.

Pharmaceutical companies have indicated their ability, desire and capacity to provide mercury-free vaccines, but WHO and others promoting the expansion of the global vaccine programs have instead chosen to press for keeping the cheaper, more dangerous vaccines in place. This pressure to exempt preservatives and disinfectants from phase out only serves to justify continuing use in countries where prenatal and childhood environmental mercury exposures are higher than anywhere else in the world.

In their claim "benefits outweigh costs," both WHO and AAP acknowledge potential negative effects exist from using mercury-preserved vaccines. The current WHO cost/benefit analysis externalizes costs and ignores additional exposures. A comprehensive analysis that includes all aspects of production, procurement, administration, disposal and costs related to mercury injury would provide stronger evidence for eliminating mercury from vaccines and other pharmaceutical and personal care products.

In their efforts, WHO and AAP have misrepresented alternative language by saying options have only called for an immediate and total ban. Instead, optional language has actually intended to expeditiously phase-down medical mercury whenever and wherever practicable. The treaty could and should do a better job of promoting the development and sharing of knowledge and technology that would support national plans to transition away from WHO-mandated mercury-containing vaccines.

For any student of mercury toxicity, common sense dictates that any opportunity to prevent mercury exposure should be undertaken, especially with vaccine exposures - a purposefully-induced bolus dose of mercury that bypasses the majority of the body's natural barriers and internal detoxification mechanisms. Further complicating this issue, ongoing research into mercury's toxic effects continues to show negative outcomes at lower and lower levels of exposure and increasing concerns about how the body deals with ethylmercury, the mercury form found in most preservatives and disinfectants, including Thimerosal.

As a result, SafeMinds continues calling for nations to support language in the treaty initiating a phasedown approach for eliminating all forms of mercury from use in pharmaceutical and personal care products, including vaccines.

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