In the July 2001 AAP News (page 21), Mike Shannon, M.D., FAAP, pleads to abolish all mercury (Hg) thermometers in specific (and all other forms of mercury in general) from the face of the earth. Personally, I’m not wedded to mercury thermometers, but I’m convinced his strong advocacy message exaggerates just a bit. He claims elemental mercury is “highly toxic”; I would only ask: “Compared to what?” Just last year, the

New England Journal of Medicine
(June
2000
.
342
:
179
) published yet another nontoxic response when a dental assistant purposefully injected herself intravenously with 10 ml of elemental Hg — and suffered no real consequences. Of course, “too much mercury” is toxic to humans, but so is too much water and too much salt.

I’d only hope that Dr. Shannon is not — unconsciously, of course — simply venting on behalf of the Committee on Environmental Health...

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