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Health Hazards: Mercury

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on public health of mercury in (a) vaccinations, (b) dental amalgams and (c) low energy light bulbs. (156823)

As with all medicinal products, vaccine safety is continually monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) with advice from the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM). The CHM has thoroughly reviewed the safety of vaccines containing mercury (thiomersal).

Several large studies have found no evidence of a link between thiomersal-containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders. MHRA and CHM advice, available on the MHRA website, is that there is no evidence of harm from the very small quantities of thiomersal contained in some vaccines, with the exception of possible allergic reactions such as skin rashes or local swelling at the site of injection. This view concurs with that of the World Health Organisation, the United States Institute of Medicine and the European Medicines Agency.

The use of dental amalgam is declining in the United Kingdom as a result of increased application of alternatives, changes in the commissioning of primary dental care and a general improvement in dental health. We expect this decline to continue. However it remains an effective direct restorative option and there is no evidence to suggest that its use poses any significant health risk.

No formal assessment has been made in respect of the potential effect on public health of mercury in low energy light bulbs.