"More than 140 nations adopted the first legally binding international treaty on Saturday aimed at reducing mercury emissions, after four years of negotiations on ways to set limits on the use of a highly toxic metal," the Associated Press/New York Times reports (1/19). "The Minimata Convention -- named for a city in Japan where thousands of people were injured or killed by mercury poisoning -- will require its signatory nations to phase out the use of mercury in certain types of batteries, fluorescent lamps, and soaps and cosmetics by 2020," as well as sets standards for mining industries, among other protective measures, ScienceInsider writes. "The treaty will, however, allow the use of mercury as a preservative in vaccines," the news service notes, adding, "Many in the public health community had argued strongly that banning mercury from vaccines would make many common vaccines much more expensive and harder to deliver, potentially leaving hundreds of thousands of children in poor countries vulnerable to deadly diseases" (Vogel, 1/20). The WHO welcomed adoption of the convention in a statement (1/19).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.