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Less Mercury in Flu Shot Than in a Can of Tuna

Series: To Your Good Health | Story 2

Last updated 12/28/2021 at 2:47pm

DEAR DR. ROACH: How much mercury is safe? -- A.C.

ANSWER: The chemical element mercury exists in three forms: elemental mercury, which is the kind in thermometers; inorganic mercury, especially mercuric chloride; and organic mercury, including methyl and ethyl mercury. All of these have toxicities, but the types of toxicities are different for each, and the safe level depends on which type it is.

Elemental mercury is dangerous primarily when it is inhaled, which occurs mainly in occupational settings. Accidental swallowing of the small amount of mercury in a thermometer has very low toxicit...

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