The UN Treaty to Ban Mercury: For Big Business or Consumer Safety?

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

Mercury, also known as thimerisol, has long been known as a dangerous toxin. It has been shown to cause changes in brain function as well as a host of other disorders and symptoms.

The World Health Organization states that “exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.

Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes. Mercury is considered by WHO as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.”


The recent UN treaty to ban its use seems like an answer to this safety concern, however, the loose ends and loop holes in the treaty are less than desirable. In an article by the Alliance for Natural Health, we find out that mercury is still approved for use as a preservative in both vaccines and mascara, and cosmetic companies are not required to label it as an ingredient.

Government agencies argue that such a small amount of mercury from those approved sources is inconsequential. But knowing that “mercury is a neurotoxin that, in extreme cases, can cause kidney damage, respiratory failure, and death,” it seems there should be no acceptable limit.

So why is mercury still used at all and where exactly will you find it?

Vaccines: “The final treaty does not ban thimerosal in vaccines. The argument for using this toxic substance in vaccines intended for newborns and infants is that it is used as a preservative for multi-dose injections.”

Mascara: “Mercury—in the form of thimerosal—is sometimes used as a preservative in mascara, although you won’t see it on the label: the FDA does not mandate that ingredients comprising less than 1% of a cosmetic product be listed in labeling.”

If we take a look at the companies who were present during negotiation of the UN treaty, it becomes clearer as to why these exceptions have been allowed. Companies like DuPont, who “has been fined by the EPA for contaminating our country’s waters with mercury discharge”, Avon Cosmetics, Monsanto, and 3M are probably not the best choice for advising on this subject.

How can you best avoid exposure to mercury when it’s hidden?

It’s important to know that mercury can be labeled as other things such as “phenoxyethanol, methylisothiazolinone, parabens (evidence has pointed to its hormone disrupting properties), and formaldehyde releasers (formaldehyde is carcinogenic to humans). Examples of formaldehyde and paraben preservatives include butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben. Formaldehyde preservatives may also be listed as DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15.” Also steer clear of synthetic colors and siloxanes, and opt for certified organic cosmetics when possible.