A draft treaty under consideration by the United Nations Environmental Program has been prepared to greatly reduce global health hazards from environmental mercury. In response to the draft treaty, the World Health Organization urges removal of a provision in the treaty that calls for a ban on thimerosal (which contains ethyl mercury) in vaccines, a position recently endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the US Public Health Service (USPHS).

Removal of the ban on thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) represents a significant reversal of the position expressed in an AAP/USPHS joint statement in 1999 that called for elimination of mercury in vaccines and the subsequent actions taken in the United States. Understanding the circumstances that led 14 years ago to the 1999 statement and the knowledge accumulated in these subsequent years can reinforce the importance of the 2012 AAP/USPHS position. AAP representatives and other members of national...

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