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Environmental connections to public health >>

Mercury in your medicine cabinet?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Special to Enviroblog by Sonya Lunder, EWG Senior Analyst Mercury was on my mind a lot last December, but imagine my surprise to find out it was also in my medicine cabinet! Pawing through my mom's cabinet over Christmas I saw a suspicious item on the top shelf. It was a dust-covered vial of Merthiolate, once a common skin antiseptic made of thimerosal. Mercury was a common ingredient in skin antiseptics of the past, and prior to 1999 was widely used as a preservative in vaccines. Mercury is still found in some eye drops, ear drops and nose sprays. Since then FDA has asked manufacturers to remove mercury from kid's shots, but it is still used in several shots--particularly the "multi-dose" Fluzone, Fluvirin, Afluria and FluLaval shots. You should ask for a "preservative-free" shot and see a complete list of other mercury-containing shots for adults here: My parent's Merthiolate was half full and had a pricetag for $0.44, so clearly some of the old stuff sticks around for a while. If you find it make sure the lids are secure and call your local government or check to find safe disposal locations. p.s. The Boric Acid sitting beside it is also suspect. Perhaps I'll post on that later.

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