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Safer Drugs & Supplements

how to choose safer drugs and supplements to avoid toxic chemicals

Even though the health hazards of heavy metals are well-known, some over-the-counter medications contain mercury, lead, or even arsenic.  Read labels carefully to avoid these toxics.

Avoid products that contain mercury compounds

Some types of topical antiseptics and disinfectants, and older laxatives, worming medication, and teething powders contain mercury.

Mercury compounds are also used as preservatives in some medications and vaccines: ask your doctor if alternatives are available.

Look for chemical names that include mercury, derivatives of mercury (such as ‘mercuric’ and ‘mercurous’), or thimerosal.


Some folk remedies contain toxic metals

Check ingredients in folk remedies: these can contain toxic metals such as arsenic and lead.

For information on folk remedies containing lead, see:
Georgia Lead Poisoning Prevention Program: Frequently Asked Questions About Lead

For information on folk remedies containing arsenic, see:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: Arsenic Toxicity Exposure Pathways


Calcium supplements may contain lead

Choose calcium supplements carefully: some types have been found to contain high levels of lead.  Consult Consumer Reports for information on safer brands.