The public is becoming increasingly aware that mercury in vaccines, “silver” tooth fillings (“silver” fillings or amalgam fillings are roughly 50% mercury), thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs and even their sushi is toxic to people and the environment. However, many people are still unaware that mercury may be lurking in their personal and household products – and it is one of the most toxic compounds found on earth; so toxic that it must be disposed of as hazardous waste!
Unfortunately, it is up to the consumer to spot mercury on labels for personal and household products – the trick is to know that it won’t simply state MERCURY on the label. Here’s what you need to know:
Step 1. Thimerosal, a mercury-containing organic compound, is found in many personal and household products. Some may recall hearing about Thimerosal being the preservative of choice in vaccines and how many vaccine manufacturers are now reducing or eliminating the use of Thimerosal in their vaccines due to much concern over its use.
Step 2. Thimerosal is still extensively used in cosmetics, personal products (baby products too!), topical medications, medical injections and skin prick test preparations.
Step 3. Typical personal products that contain Thimerosal: cosmetics such as mascara or cream eye shadow, make-up removers, antiseptics, skin lighteners and cleansers, moisturizers, contact lens cleansers, sprays and solutions, sunscreen, and optic and ophthalmic solutions.
Step 4. Typical household products that contain mercury: fluorescent lights; LCD screens; thermometers; children’s light-up shoes; barometers; old appliances such as microwaves that have mercury vapor bulbs; certain batteries; children’s chemistry sets; electrical switches and relays.
Step 5. What makes it even trickier for you, the consumer, is that Thimerosal is often listed under different names (this is not a complete list of chemical names used for Thimerosal): Thiomersalan; ETHYLMERCURITHIOSALICYLIC ACID SODIUM SALT; Merthiolate; Mercurothiolate; ETHYL (SODIUM O-MERCAPTOBENZOATO) MERCURY; Mercurochrome; [(o-carboxyphenyl)thio] Ethyl mercury sodium salt; Ethyl (2-mercaptobenzoato-S) mercury sodium salt; ELICIDE; ETHYLMERKURITHIOSALICILAN SODNY (CZECH); Mertorgan; Merzonin 1.
Step 6. Mercury is an extremely toxic heavy metal that is an immunosuppressant and a powerful neurotoxin that affects every aspect of brain and nerve function. It is especially dangerous to the developing fetus.
Step 7. You may not connect your symptoms to mercury exposure as exposure to any form of mercury on a repeated basis, or even from a single, very high exposure can lead to the disease of chronic mercury poisoning, making it particularly insidious.
Step 8. Symptoms can become apparent immediately after exposure to mercury or over time, even many years later. One person may have fatigue, another hypothyroidism, asthma or food allergies, or myriad symptoms that are often labeled as fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, while another may have MS-like symptoms or even blood disorders.
For a complete list of mercury-containing items — including consumer, medical, pharmaceutical, electrical, chemical, manufacturing and construction products — see the EPA’s “Table of Products That May Contain Mercury and Recommended Management Options.”
For information on how to properly dispose of any mercury containing products, go to
http://www.epa.gov/mercury/ and click on where it says “Spills, Cleanup and Disposal” at the bottom of the page, or contact your State’s Department of Health for more information on how to handle and dispose of mercury containing products.