Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mercury and the H1N1 Vaccination

I have been concerned about the lifting of bans in many states to allow mercury preservatives into the H1N1 vaccine. Not all of us in my family will be vaccinated, but for those that will receive the vaccine due to susceptibility and health concerns I have tried unsuccessfully for the past week to find a mercury-free version -- one that would be free of Thimerosal. The only exception was if you were pregnant, then you could get the mercury-free H1N1 vaccine -- but that is not our situation.

So, my research lead me to the CDC's website that outlined exactly how much mercury is in the H1N1 vaccine. There is some but not a lot. And this vaccine is given by itself -- not as part of a group of vaccines on one day -- which reduces the total amount of mercury in one's system. Though, you might end up having to get two doses.

Result? I've decided to stop looking for a mercury-free version and follow the excellent advice from Gina Solomon who is a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Says Solomon --

"According to the package insert, a multi-dose vial of the H1N1 flu vaccine contains about 25 micrograms of mercury per dose. In comparison, an average can of albacore tuna contains about 60 micrograms of mercury. So the vaccine offers a dose of mercury that is less than that in 1/2 can of tunafish. At the same time, the vaccine protects against a disease that at best results in several days of discomfort and missed school or work, and at worst results in serious complications and even death. Seems like a worthwhile trade-off."

Gina's full commentary on the issue is found at the NRDC's Switchboard blog site here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Prototype: California's Sustainable Seafood Bill -- Boosting a Green Economy

This week, California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law what is being called California's Sustainable Seafood Bill. It is essentially a prototype for other states and maybe nationally in the certification and promotion of sustainable seafood.

Currently, there is an Ocean Protection Council in California. This Council coordinates activities and sharing of data among all state agencies relating to ocean conservation and protection. What is unique about this bill is that it requires this Council to also "develop and implement a specified voluntary sustainable seafood promotion program." This program would guide fisherman and their companies on how to obtain international sustainable seafood certification, provide marketing assistance to them once they are certified, and also incentivize with a loan and grant program. Essentially, this is a great example of boosting a green economy.

Also, of note, this bill prohibits "seafood produced through aquaculture or fish farming from being certified as sustainable under these provisions until nationally or internationally accepted sustainability standards have been developed and implemented." Aquaculture is basically the same as fish farming -- sounds better to say aquaculture, but it's really the same thing. So, this bill sends a strong message about fish farming that it really is a cloudy practice that has little support. This was the feeling I also got when I attended a conference at The Monterey Bay Aquarium back in May -- far too many concerns about the sustainability of aquaculture and how it infects disease and pollution on the surrounding native fish population.

If you are concerned about the sustainability of the fish you eat, make it easy on yourself. Only purchase the Best Choices from the lists at Seafood Watch.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Love my CSA!!!

My local community-supported agriculture program is wonderful. All USDA Organic produce, all seasonal, all delicious, all community based. You can find a CSA near you at Local Harvest.