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Proposed Mercury Ban Threatens Vaccines

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the ban-venus-too dept.

Medicine 383

T Murphy writes "Although in the draft stages, a treaty being pushed by the United Nations Environment Programme has a blanket ban on mercury. While the ban would stop the use of mercury in paints or pesticides, it currently has no exemptions to allow for other small uses, such as in thermisol, which is used as a preservative in vaccines. The next meeting to discuss this treaty will be at the end of October."

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383 comments

Nothing to see here.... (3, Informative)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792398)

Does anyone really believe that the final draft would include a total ban, even for vaccines? I didn't think so. Sounds like more hype than fact, and an article for the sake of having an article on the part of the Chicago Tribune.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792590)

Like saying chlorine is poisonous so it should be banned and then cracking down on the importation of salt; this treaty shows a profound lack of chemistry and biology education.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (-1, Flamebait)

fferreres (525414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792844)

IAMNAC....A lot of autism cases have been traced to use of Mercury in vaccines during early childhood. Since Mercury was retired from Baby/Toddlers, cases have started to recede. What makes you believe that mercury would be FORCIBLY injected in bloodstrems of our nation? Mercury makes you more stupid, doesn't have any benefit, stays in the bloodstream for ever. It's also been found that most people have more mercury in their blood than is normal, and today, many are even advising avoiding things like Tuna for this very same reason: the seas have more mercury floating, so fish that lives linger, accumulates more mercury. This is the reason many people look for Fish Oil supplements that have a process for removing most of the mercury, or look for produce from seas that don't (yet) suffer largerly from this problem.

There should be an alternative to Vaccines. We are getting vaccines every year, and the numbers is steadily going up. I don't like injecting Mercury in my blood to avoid a flu once every few years.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (5, Informative)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792926)

IAMNAC....A lot of autism cases have been traced to use of Mercury in vaccines during early childhood.

No they haven't.

Since Mercury was retired from Baby/Toddlers, cases have started to recede.

No they haven't.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (5, Informative)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792958)

A lot of autism cases have been traced to use of Mercury in vaccines during early childhood.

So far, no credible study has ever shown a link between the vaccinations and autism.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793114)

A lot of autism cases have been traced to use of Mercury in vaccines during early childhood.

So far, no credible study has ever shown a link between the vaccinations and autism.

Yes, but incredible non-study has linked bobble-head medi-uh personalities with spurious claims.

A lie can run around the world while truth is still getting its boots on.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793038)

All that has been completely debunked, you anti-science sack of loser. Go read your Bible by candlelight, scumbag.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793044)

[Citation Needed]

Re:Nothing to see here.... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793142)

Kill this comment with fire.

Those studies were refuted, the article in Lancet retracted, the author (Andrew Wakefield) thoroughly discredited, multiple stories in mainstream news were published to this effect, and yet the damage done by his "research" persists.

fferreres, go look up a couple articles on Andrew Wakefield. That is the guy whose kool-aid you are drinking. Here's a tidbit from Wikipedia:

"A 2004 investigation by Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer identified undisclosed financial conflicts of interest on Wakefield's part, and most of his coauthors then withdrew their support for the study's interpretations. The British General Medical Council (GMC) conducted an inquiry into allegations of misconduct against Wakefield and two former colleagues... a five-member statutory tribunal of the GMC found some three dozen charges proved, including four counts of dishonesty and 12 counts involving the abuse of developmentally challenged children. The panel ruled that Wakefield had "failed in his duties as a responsible consultant", acted both against the interests of his patients, and "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in his published research."

Re:Nothing to see here.... (5, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793240)

A lot of autism cases have been traced to use of Mercury in vaccines during early childhood.

No, they haven't; in fact not a single case has been. One crank researcher being paid by anti-vaccine lawyers made that assertion in a fraudulent study of 12 self selected children who were already exhibiting signs of autism before the study started. Since then, every major piece of research has shown no link between vaccines of any kind and autism.

Since Mercury was retired from Baby/Toddlers, cases have started to recede.

Nope, autism rates have remained steady or increased when mercury was removed from vaccines. Children who don't receive vaccines are no more or less likely to develop autism than children that do. Children in places where mercury has been removed or vaccines discontinued have the same rates of autism as before.

What makes you believe that mercury would[sic][I assume you mean 'should'?] be FORCIBLY injected in bloodstrems of our nation?

Because it makes delivery of vaccines to rural areas possible, reduces the risk of infections caused by spoiled vaccines, and has been demonstrated to be safe.

Mercury makes you more stupid, doesn't have any benefit, stays in the bloodstream for ever.

As I said it makes preservation without refridgeration possible, making vaccines safer to ship and store, especially in rural areas (not as much of a problem in modern US granted). Atomic mercury does indeed cause brain damage and stays int he body long term, atomic mercury is not what is used in vaccines. The compound in vaccines is not retained by the way elemental mercury is, it has a halflife of 18 days (it's actually removed from the brain even faster than that) and it does not interact biologically the same way elemental mercury does. You may as well avoid salt since Sodium and Chlorine are both poisonous

It's also been found that most people have more mercury in their blood than is normal, and today, many are even advising avoiding things like Tuna for this very same reason: the seas have more mercury floating, so fish that lives linger, accumulates more mercury. This is the reason many people look for Fish Oil supplements that have a process for removing most of the mercury, or look for produce from seas that don't (yet) suffer largerly from this problem.

This is a global problem, caused by coal fired power plants and has little, if anything to do with the mercury in vaccines controversy beyond trying to establish the boogeyman. Actually, though, maybe this can help understanding. The amount of mercury in a typical vaccines, contains as much mercury as 50 grams of tuna. Even pregnant women and children can eat a can of tuna a couple times a week without being exposed to dangerous levels of mercury.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793356)

There should be an alternative to Vaccines. We are getting vaccines every year, and the numbers is steadily going up. I don't like injecting Mercury in my blood to avoid a flu once every few years.

There ARE alternatives to mercury; there's several preservatives that don't have any mercury in them, and some vaccines do use them. The problem is only money; they cost slightly more, so of course corporations, being cheap bastards, don't want to use them, and it's hard to find the mercury-free vaccines. It's just like lead-free paint; people stuck with that crap for way too long before finally banning it and switching to latex, and these days we can't imagine using leaded paint, while modern latex paint looks brilliant.

Personally, I just skip the flu shots. I don't need any more crap in my body than I already eat from our contaminated food, and I'm young enough that I never catch the flu.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793100)

No its not like that at all. You cannot have salt without chlorine but you CAN have a vaccine without mercury.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793422)

The point, which I thought was obvious, is that the chlorine is salt is not toxic. Similar to how the mercury in vaccines is not toxic. It is silly to try to extrapolate the chemical behavior of a molecule based on the behavior of the elements that make it up. Otherwise we could all breath water (plenty of oxygen in there right?) or use it to inflate a blimp (with all that hydrogen). Not to mention the fact that even if the mercury in vaccines were bioavailable and had a long half life, the amounts we are talking about are so tiny that you can easily ingest more mercury from a can of tuna than from a years worth of vaccines.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (1)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793448)

Like saying chlorine is poisonous so it should be banned and then cracking down on the importation of salt; this treaty shows a profound lack of chemistry and biology education.

Think of the most absurd and ridiculous proposal you can... and an American politician has probably already proposed it:

"New York restaurants face salt ban in new health bill... causing chefs' blood pressure to soar"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1257414/New-York-restaurants-face-salt-ban-new-health--causing-chefs-blood-pressure-soar.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:Nothing to see here.... (2)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792814)

These are politicians. I had all optimism for intelligent thought from politicians slowly drained away since 2000. I wouldn't be surprised at this point if the final draft included a total ban on dihydrodren monoxide.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793148)

I had all optimism for intelligent thought from politicians slowly drained away since 2000.

You realize they are not actually stupid, right? They just don't give a shit about you or yours. They are more successful than you. They are more powerful than you. They can fuck with your life anytime they want. They get money and whores and favors left and right. Hell, they probably *love* the idea you just consider them stupid.

Re:Nothing to see here.... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793214)

These are politicians. I had all optimism for intelligent thought from politicians slowly drained away since 2000. I wouldn't be surprised at this point if the final draft included a total ban on dihydrodren monoxide.

Yeah, once some area of American industry is threatened with Change they rally their guard dogs in government to obstruct the scary monster.

That in itself is tragic, because it ensures innovation will not happen in America, but elsewhere. It's entrenching and backward thinking protectionism at its ugliest.

In short, yes (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793018)

It's evil, it must be banned, period. These are idealist politicians we're talking about, reality need not apply.

It's just like the landmine ban, no exceptions, even for cases when the reasons for the ban don't apply (which is the reason the US didn't sign).

Re:Nothing to see here.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793164)

There might be other undiscovered ways to use mercury that do more good than harm. A blanket ban with only an exception for vaccine means we put a block on future discoveries since people won't be able to experiment with the substance.

I think you mean Thiomersal (1, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792404)

Last I read it was being phased out in favor of other preservatives that lacked mercury.

Re:I think you mean Thiomersal (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792522)

I think you mean Thiomersal...

Nevermind. (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792560)

I meant to say Thimerosal, but I guess they are the same thing. Nevermind

Re:I think you mean Thiomersal (2)

ElmoGonzo (627753) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792528)

T-H-I-M-E-R-O-S-A-L is the way it is spelled on the vaccination form where it asks "Are you allergic to Thimerosal (used as a preservative in vaccines)?"

Re:I think you mean Thiomersal (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792544)

Is it commonly called thimerosal in the US, FYI. I think in many cases it is being phased out (though not because there is any scientific evidence that it is harmful), but there are some vaccines for which thimerosal is simply better suited. A blanket ban which prohibits use of thimerosal could slow or halt production of some vaccines until an alternative is found, and the alternative may be less efficacious or less safe, and if it raises the costs in the process it could slow critical vaccinations, especially in developing nations where young populations are most sensitive and access is already tenuous.

Re:I think you mean Thiomersal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37792968)

... (though not because there is any scientific evidence that it is harmful)....

I have to call you on that. There is a lot of data on thimerosal toxicity and most of it is summarized in the MSDS data sheet [sciencelab.com] (PDF). Pay particular attention to chronic exposure like the one you get every year from your flu shot. Kidney, liver and CNS damage don't strike me as particularly harmless.

Besides there is no excuse why it is still in use as vaccine preservative. There are alternative preservatives, and in many cases preservative use is not even needed. Producing the vaccine in a clean facility and/or sterilizing it by filtration or gamma-irradiation (where appropriate) should do the job quite nicely.

Re:I think you mean Thiomersal (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793272)

Preservatives are necessary for multi-dose vaccine delivery. There's always some contamination when you break the seal.

If you only use one dose bottles, then yes, just sterilize it and you don't need a preservative.

Too much gamma radiation causes organics to break down, the trick is killing all the microbes, without destroying the proteins that are important for the vaccine to work.

The problem with toxicity studies, is that they would exclude people who are already on the edge of mercury poisoning. Plus, many poisons work together to multiply their effect.

Re:I think you mean Thiomersal (1)

bbartlog (1853116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793202)

'No scientific evidence that it's harmful' is overbroad. In the tiny amounts present in vaccines, it may be OK. The MSDS is still pretty scary, though! See: http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9925236 [sciencelab.com] . Mutagenic, repeated exposure may cause organ damage, etc. Organomercury compounds are no fun, really.

Re:I think you mean Thiomersal (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792606)

In the U.S., among common vaccines, it's only present in one of the forms of flu vaccine.

Re:I think you mean Thiomersal (1)

bkaul01 (619795) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792946)

That's true of vaccines intended for children under the age of 6. It is still used in a variety of other vaccines that aren't part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule, though.

There is a bright side (4, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792410)

Once this ban passes, then all new diagnoses of autism should stop, right?

Re:There is a bright side (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792510)

Yes, because this ban will conclusively prove that correlation equals causation. :)

Re:There is a bright side (2)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792576)

Thimerosal use in vaccines is already down quite a bit and yet autism cases have not dropped correspondingly. Autism diagnoses continue to increase, even as we use less mercury and fewer heavy metals in products aimed at sensitive populations (at least here in the US and other developed nations).

Re:There is a bright side (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792640)

You do know my post was made sarcastically, right?

Re:There is a bright side (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792804)

I do, but I wanted to qualify your comment with a little detail on the off chance someone else doesn't. Didn't mean to offend, sir.

Re:There is a bright side (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793058)

None taken

Re:There is a bright side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37792644)

They should have stopped years ago when the US manufacturers stopped putting thimerosal in childhood vaccines (the flu vaccine is the only one remaining, and it has a preservative-free version for kids. Adult tetanus shots still have it as well).

Re:There is a bright side (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792780)

However as the autism rate drops by a fraction of a percent. There seems to be a 20% increase in deaths due to children dying of viruses.
The greater good be damn! I don't care how many kids die from preventable virus I don't want the shame of my child being autistic.

Re:There is a bright side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793168)

the shame of my child being autistic.

Spoken like someone without an autistic child, I assure you shame has nothing to do with it. It's heartbreaking, stressful, and hideously expensive. You can't even rely on some family and friends to help out because they go bonkers trying to deal with the OCDs and other issues.

I'm not weighing in on the vaccination argument as both sides are pretty much equally moronic.

Re:There is a bright side (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793362)

Hasn't the CDC declared an epidemic of whopping cough in southern California?

Re:There is a bright side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37792884)

Once this ban passes, then all new diagnoses of autism should stop, right?

I really like when people proves ignorance reigns the world. I like in Almadén, a village which has been producing 3/4 of global mercury in last 2 millenia.

Well, do you know how many causes of autism we have? Only 2 in the last 10 years. In total, 2 persons in this village have autism. Btw, you can find mercury if you kick a rock, it's everywhere!

But I guess you were living happy drinking from a plumb of "plumb" which is toxic and is PROVED to kill...

Ignorance to the power!!!

Re:There is a bright side (5, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793030)

I like in Almadén, a village which has been producing 3/4 of global mercury in last 2 millenia.

Well, do you know how many causes of autism we have? Only 2 in the last 10 years. In total, 2 persons in this village have autism.

But it does appear that all of that mercury has caused the population of Almaden to be unable to detect sarcasm.

Re:There is a bright side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793294)

They don't make our plumbing and dishes out of lead in the US.

Feelings vs Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37792418)

And this is what happens when actions are taken using feelings and opinions vs science and facts...

Mercury (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37792426)

Mercury in vaccines causes autism. Good reason to ban it.

Re:Mercury (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792552)

No it doesn't. Scientific study after scientific study has proven it doesn't.

Even the first doctor who said there was a link has admitted he faked his data for monetary gain from a lawsuit.

Unfortunately some people still hold onto this old belief- just like people still believe sugar makes kids get hyper... which has been proven not to be true (blood sugar is regulated unless you have diabetes or other such disease).

It's an old wives tale nothing more. Vaccines do not cause autism.

Re:Mercury (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792866)

I conducted an experiment on this very topic at my 3 year nephew’s birthday party. After administering the sugar he went nuts. I didn’t use a very large sample set but the results were fairly conclusive none the less.

Re:Mercury (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792566)

I'm assuming you're trolling as an AC, but the amount of mercury is less than what you get from eating fish.

One guy did one study trying to link rising autism rates to vaccines, but he was getting paid to fake his research, which he has since admitted. There has never once been any evidence this is true. But sadly, since people listen to this BS, small pox, polio and other diseases are starting to come back. So maybe you think you're having a laugh. But if contributing to spread such obvious lies leads to one more kid getting polio, then I fucking hope you get crotch rot.

Re:Mercury (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792876)

Is it you, Dr Bob?

to err is human (-1, Troll)

subl33t (739983) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792430)

to really screw things up, we have the UN.

The actual concerns (5, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792472)

Mercury has been phased out of most vaccines. This was done in the late 1990s in response to concerns that the mercury was somehow causing autism in children. Note that this had no impact on autism rates so the anti-vaxxers then switched to talking about ambiguous toxins. Thiomersol is still used in some vaccines but it is only a small fraction of vaccines, such as some versions of the flu vaccine. If necessary that can be easily replaced. It would be stupid because the mercury levels are tiny but it wouldn't have much of an impact. I'm more concerned that this sort of blanket ban would inadvertently impact smaller uses where mercury is really necessary for specialized uses in other areas. The ban also doesn't seem to address the differences between organic and inorganic mercury which have wildly different chemical properties in practice.

Re:The actual concerns (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792572)

I think it's only being phased out in wealthy, first-world countries that can deal with the reduced shelf-life of non Thiomersol preserved vaccines.

Re:The actual concerns (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792672)

Wildly different biological properties as well (although that's arguably redundant). The mercury in vaccines isn't bioavailable in any significant way so the body doesn't absorb it like it does atomic mercury. Even more importantly, it doesn't accumulate in the body the way atomic mercury does, any damage the tiny amount of mercury would do is limited to the one or two days it's in your system before it is passed out. Compared to atomic mercury which accumulates so much so that it will literally turn your hair red with continuous exposure.

Re:The actual concerns (-1, Redundant)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793110)

In my experience (which has become much larger with the advent of children in our family), thimerosal is used in every multi-use vaccine vial (where more than one dose will be drawn from the same vial). It is not present in single-use vials. All childhood and yearly influenza vaccines, again to my experience, come in both forms.

Mercury is a neurotoxin that accumulates in the body. Why, under any circumstances, would I knowingly want to add to the level of neurotoxins in my children's bodies when there is a functionally identical option that does not?

Re:The actual concerns (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793436)

Mercury is a neurotoxin that accumulates in the body.

Not all forms of mercury are identical, the half life for ethylmercury is something like a week. Of course, people like you thrive in ignorance so I doubt you ever bothered to look into any of this.

wrong name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37792474)

It's not Thermisol, that's a brand of isolation products. It's called Thiomersal or Thimerosal.

Summmary (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792504)

To summarize: A draft treaty (with only 2 of 5 planned meetings to draft the treaty having been completed) and not expected to become final for 2 years, is not complete. Is there any reason to believe that the exception for vaccine preservatives won't be present in the final treaty?

thimerosol-free flu shot (1)

oh-dark-thirty (1648133) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792508)

Just got my flu shot yesterday, and this year they were using thimerosol-free shots exclusively, whereas in past years I had to specifically ask for one. I'm sure there would be other vax that need it, but reducing it's use whenever possible is a step in the right direction.

Re:thimerosol-free flu shot (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792662)

Thimerosal is used in such low doses that it won't make any difference, really. That and thimerosal is a pretty safe form of mercury, as far as the human body is concerned. As long as there are safe and effective alternatives I support, generally speaking, reductions in use of thimerosal, but if the replacements are less effective and harm the efficacy and affordability of vaccines I say don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

Re:thimerosol-free flu shot (5, Funny)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792994)

I say don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

A baby with enough Thimerosal sinks right to the bottom of the bathwater. It's pretty easy to pour the bathwater right off and find the baby still in there.

Re:thimerosol-free flu shot (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792680)

Not really. A flu shot with Thimerosal is worth something like a few meals' worth of tuna. (I think it uses up a week's worth of mercury exposure limit.) A flu shot without Thimerosal is not only more difficult to store and transport, it's more likely to fail to give you resistance to the flu.

Re:thimerosol-free flu shot (-1, Flamebait)

fferreres (525414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792934)

I don't eat Tuna for that reason. And for the same reason I don't want Thimerasol. There's no safe dose. Just beasure the mercury level in the adult population. All my family (except me) had some eruptions, after drinking from an area that was naturally rich in Alu, and they detected not only high levels of Alu, but high levels of mercury as well. My father is 67...and had a lot of Tuna and vaccines in the past. So why accumulate to avoid a flu once in a while? I don't buy it, but that's just me.

Re:thimerosol-free flu shot (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793376)

There's no safe dose.

Are you a biochemist, or do you have a reference for that? Most chemicals, even toxic bio-accumulative ones, have safe doses.

and they detected not only high levels of Alu, but high levels of mercury as well.

That's deceptive. Mercury-contaminated water can easily have many orders of magnitude more mercury than fish or vaccines.

Re:thimerosol-free flu shot (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792960)

Nope. It's not only about how many atoms of mercury do you eat, it's also about what substance are those atoms in. Tuna has elemental (atomic) mercury and compounds that are easily bioavailable: the body will get the mercury out of them, and that's what counts in exposure limits. Non-bioavailable mercury, like in thiomersal, is not included in those limits -- there's no mechanism in our body to break down thiomersal to get at the mercury. If the mercury is bound and cannot participate in our biochemistry, it's as good as not being there.

It's like saying there's a limit on how many apples you can eat a week, and then insisting that oranges count under that limit too because both are fruit.

Re:thimerosol-free flu shot (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793326)

Your general point is true, but your information about tuna and thimerosal is false. The mercury in tuna is methyl mercury, which is one of the less-pleasant organic mercuries. Organic mercury is quite bad compared to elemental mercury. The mercury exposure limits I'm referring to are actually for methyl mercury, since it's the common and dangerous organic mercury. Thimerosal breaks down in the body to ethyl mercury. There are not sufficient studies on ethyl mercury to determine its impact, but the rule of thumb is that ethyl mercury should be no worse than methyl mercury, so it's reasonable to apply the methyl mercury limits.

It could actually be that thimerosal is much less bad for you than an "equivalent" amount of tuna, but it's a reasonable upper limit. (Particularly since those limits are for chronic exposure and thus are extremely low.)

what? Why?! (1)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792512)

But Thiomerasal is non-bio accumulative!
Why would you not leave it the fuck alone.

Re:what? Why?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37792686)

Why would you use logic and actual data in political arguments? What's wrong with you?

MOST Vaccines don't use Thimerosal (5, Informative)

RapidEye (322253) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792516)

I've worked at a vaccines manufacturing site for a dozen years now and have helped produce hundreds of millions of doses of pediatric vaccines - I've never seen a milligram of thimerosal at our plant or any other in our supply chain. Most current technology manufacturing plants stopped using it decades ago and this really is only an issue for old facilities making old vaccines that they can't relicense using new technology.

Technologies like single dose syringes and barrier/isolator filling lines have made preservatives largely unnecessary and even for those that still use them, there are better choices like EDTA.

Re:MOST Vaccines don't use Thimerosal (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793312)

Presumably you work at a vaccine plant in a developed country that produces vaccines for use in developed countries. That works out fine in developed countries where the vaccine can be refrigerated, vaccine is used quickly after being produced, and any waste due to spoilage is relatively cheap.

The problem comes in non-developed countries where refrigeration is often not available, times between production and usage are longer, and waste due to spoilage is relatively expensive. Do the alternatives you suggest solve all these problems, while still being cheap?

good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37792526)

The only vaccine that still had mercury in it was the flu shots, which are utterly useless anyway. There are much safer alternatives.

Light Bulb! (0)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792578)

Does this mean that CFL bulbs will be banned as well? We've already banned incandescent lights in many places. If CFL bulbs get banned, what's left? LED? If you can find and afford them I guess.

Time to break out the whale oil lantern I guess.

Re:Light Bulb! (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792716)

Would be counter-productive if so.

CFLs do contain trace amounts of mercury- but the extra power needed to be generated to power an incandescent bulb results in multiple times more mercury emissions from power generation than exists inside a CFL.

So less mercury is put into the atmosphere by using CFLs than Incandescents (at least if you get any of your power from fossil fuels).

Re:Light Bulb! (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792862)

Then clearly power generation needs to be banned as well.

Re:Light Bulb! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792802)

There's a new product out on the market called heat globes [sitestuff.com] . They give off some light as a by-product.

Re:Light Bulb! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793184)

I've been using heat globes in my Easy Bake Oven for decades.

Re:Light Bulb! (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793070)

Hey you know those fluorescent tube lights that offices use? They have a drop of mercury in them as well. Always have.

So, hope you like radically increasing every businesses' power bill and making every office feel like a reptile terrarium as part of your crusade to bring back the good ol' incandescent bulb that works as a space heater and releases a little light as a side-effect.

Re:Light Bulb! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793336)

I'm already getting stupid CFL bulb "safety" scare spam showing "infectious mercury poisoning" and full of ignorant bullshit when the MSDS for mercury has been downloadable from the net since before the first web browser. One amusing thing is they missed the long flouro lights which probably have more mercury in them than CFLs. It's better to treat things with respect instead of exaggerated fear. You don't clean up poisons by hiding them because they scare you, instead you clean them up in a way that ensures you don't get poisoned.

realy wrong name (1)

leaen (987954) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792602)

By banning mercury half of world would lose dentist care. Hint what do you think amalgam is.

Mercury thrmometers are already banned in EU (0)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792666)

We had to get one from the black market because these electric ones are inaccurate.

Re:Mercury thrmometers are already banned in EU (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793186)

We had to get one from the black market because these electric ones are inaccurate.

Hint: there are non-mercury thermometers. They use "spirits", which can mean stuff-like-alcohol or magic, depending on your worldview. They have been around for a couple decades.

Good luck with the parenting.

http://ehs.uky.edu/hmm/thermo_facts.html

Leave the damn planets alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37792688)

First they demoted Pluto, and now they want to ban Mercury

What about the loss of jobs at Ford plants?

Re:Leave the damn planets alone (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792788)

I'm sure the Koreans will just start working for Kia instead.

BTW- An employee of Toyota told me this several years ago (don't know if it is still true):

The #1 importer of cars into the US: General Motors.

The #1 exporter of cars out of the US: Toyota.

Apparantly Toyota makes more of their cars in America than GM and the American companies do.... ... off topic- but hopefull I won't get modded down for that aside.... I think it is interesting (and no not bashing the big 3).

Re:Leave the damn planets alone (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792956)

I'm sure the Koreans will just start working for Kia instead.

Kia actually has a manufacturing plant in Alabama and, I believe, are either building or just built a plant in Georgia as well. It's actually kind of funny. A few years ago I worked in the international arrivals area of the Atlanta airport, and on the daily Korean Air flight from Seoul, there were always at least 20-30 Korean men going to places such as Montgomery, Birmingham, and Little Rock. And a lot of them had papers with them with Kia letterhead.

CFL bulbs (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792736)

Easy, they can just break a bunch of CFL bulbs and capture the Hg from there. What's that enviro-hipster, you didn't know that you were putting mercury in the landfill when you trashed your "green" lightbulbs?

United Nations is beyond useless (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792774)

Unfortunately saying the United Nations has become a useless body is an incorrect statement. The United Nations has become a harmful body that is being used as a puppet for ridiculous ideas. The entire thing should be disbanded.

Greater effect on poorer nations (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792776)

Given that thimerosal (thiomersal) vaccine formulations are time-tested and, by now, relatively affordable to produce, a ban on thimerosal would probably most hurt poor nations. Here in the US we don't use it much, despite the fact that it has been demonstrated time and again to be relatively safe, but in poorer nations thimerosal formulations may be able to be produced more cheaply than alternatives and can be stored and distributed more easily, especially in/to more remote areas. The US and Europe will likely be unaffected, but if vaccines become more expensive or harder to get or simply less stable in poorer storage conditions in poorer nations, we could see increases in diseases which might otherwise be at least partially under control. If the UN is to include any conditions or exclusions for medical purposes, they should favor improving health in the poorer nations and not putting ideology above the needs of the citizenry.

Not threaten, help. (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792832)

No, this law would not threaten vaccines it would help them immensely.
Mercury is only used as a preservative in vaccines, they can make them without it (either on the spot for use right away [most vaccines are used on mass in a short period of time anyways] or with a safer preservative).
The mercury is basically the entire reason for all the anti vaccine stuff in the first place, this would solve all of that and also have the benefit of keeping tons and tons of mercury out of the already saturated bodies of the public.

Vaccines don't contain mercury (2)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792852)

Some vaccines contain thiomersal, a compound of mercury. And in such miniscule amounts it doesn't harm anyone beyond some localized redness. Many vaccines are phasing it out, not because it causes harm but because it's talking point for antivaxxer loons. Of course when thiomersal goes these loons will be screeching about the miniscule traces of formaldehyde or detergents that vaccines also contain.

Re:Vaccines don't contain mercury (1)

ccool (628215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793354)

Thimerosal contain 49.6% Mercury (by weight)!

I understand that the amount of thimerosal is not massive in vaccine, half of it is mercury. It is not "in such minuscule amounts it doesn't harm anyone" as you said.

The EPA guideline state that you should not give to an infant more than 0.1 microgram of methylmercury per body weight per day.

Also, you can find up to 2 or 3 microgram of thimerosal per ml in a vaccine. Half of which is Mercury.

Most pediatric vaccine comes in doses of 0.5 ml, so it would make 1 to 1.5 microgram of mercury. If a baby weight 3.5 kg (just born, first vaccine of Hepatitis B) or 4.5kg (1-2 month - second vaccine of Hepatitis B) this will be a dosage of up to 0.43 microgram per kg or 0.33 microgram per kg.

THIS IS NOT MINUSCULE.

And this is considering that the EPA dosage is not already too high.

How Is This Bad? (4, Informative)

shambalagoon (714768) | more than 2 years ago | (#37792920)

There is no safe amount of mercury exposure. It is a potent neurotoxin. This is a great treaty and I hope it succeeds. We're smart enough to find other ways of accomplishing what we need. Under pressure from autism-related claims, it was replaced by something safer in vaccines. Digital thermometers take temperature without using mercury. Fluorescent lights will soon be replaced with LEDs.

There's a lot of crazy people in the world. Every little thing we can do to remove neurotoxins from the environment is a good step.

Next: do the same thing with lead. I'm sick of seeing it in all my christmas light plastics.

Re:How Is This Bad? (1)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793316)

There is no safe amount of mercury exposure. It is a potent neurotoxin.

Many food types including fish contain mercury. Are you saying that eating fish is not safe?

There's a lot of crazy people in the world.

Such hyperbole only serves to add to the craziness in the world.

Re:How Is This Bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793446)

There is no safe amount of mercury exposure

Alles ist Gift und nichts ist Gift; der Unterschied besteht in der Dosierung.

Would a blanket ban mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793010)

...the end of Queen music?

Methyl v. Ethyl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793134)

There are 2 types of mercury that relate to this discussion. Methylmecury is toxic, but is NOT used in vaccines. It accumulates in the organs and each exposure increases your risk of toxicity.

Ethylmecury (or organic mercury) is eliminated very quickly by the body and does NOT accumulate in the organs. Exposure is limited to incidence, not lifetime. This is the kind used as a preservative in vaccines as thimerisol.

But we just deregulated mercury. (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793204)

We just removed regulations preventing cement factories from spewing mercury into the air, I doubt this congres will let the UN attack the "job creators" profits.

Light Bulbs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37793288)

This is brilliant following on the US ban on incandescent light bulbs given all the CFLs contain mercury. Guess we'll all be pushed to buying the massively expensive LED alternatives next.

What about lightbulbs? (0)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37793332)

I mean, we were just now forced to buy mercury laden light bulbs. Suppose to save me a bajillion dollars over ten years...
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