I’ve overheard some parents talking about how “safe” vaccines are for children. They believe that they no longer have mercury in any of the childhood vaccines. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The Institute for Vaccine Safety has published a current vaccine schedule as well as the associated thimerosal content.
I recently read an article “Autism and Mercury” published by Biotics Resesarch Mid-Atlantic in The Better Health News (Volume 4, Issue 4, April 2008, page 4). To shed some light on the history of the autism and vaccine debate, the article noted that a few years ago, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study that suggested increasing cases of autism may be linked to vaccines containing mercury. Unfortunately, it must have been a pretty good study because it ticked off a lot of people who matter. As a result, he was “forced” out of his position at the Royal Free Hospital in London and he was defamed and labeled a “quack” by editorials in medical journals and TV shows. Since his study came out, several subsequent studies were published “proving” that there is no connection between the mercury in the vaccines and the increasing numbers of autism in western countries. The CDC is one of the organizations that published some studies on this issue.
Well, it’s okay to debunk a study and to claim that something is safe, as long as you’re talking about apples and apples. But, when you compare apples to oranges, that means nothing when you’re talking about orange juice. Only the oranges matter. That’s the case with the FDA when they claimed that dosages for mercury in vaccines are “safe”.
Thimerosal is a preservative ingredient in vaccines. It is composed of ethylmercury (which is constituted with 50% mercury). An FDA website claims the following:
‘Thimerosal in concentrations of 0.001% (1 part in 100,000) to 0.01% (1 part in 10,000) has been shown to be effective in clearing a broad spectrum of pathogens. A vaccine containing 0.01% thimerosol as a preservative contains 50 mcg of thimerosal per 0.5 ml dose or approximately 25 mcg of mercury per 0.5 ml dose.’
The FDA was toting “safe” dosages for mercury, but they were referring to methylmercury NOT ethylmercury which is the type of mercury ingredient in vaccines. Additionally, the FDA states that the amount of mercury an infant receives from vaccines is within acceptable limits. The problem with that claim is that depending on the specific vaccine formulations that are administered and the infant’s weight, “some infants could have been exposed to cumulative levels of mercury during the first six months of life that exceeded EPA recommended guidelines for safe intake of methylmercury.” Thankfully, these findings have promoted an effort to reduce the amount of mercury in vaccines.
Before such an effort to reduce mercury in vaccines, the cumulative exposure to mercury once an infant reached six months was 187.5 mcg in a child who has received ALL of the recommended vaccines. Additionally, mercury is transferred from mom to baby in utero. So, a pregnant woman who gets a flu shot exposes the developing fetus to additional mercury.
The EPA has some pretty grim things to say about mercury levels and their effects on people. According to a website for the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (Department of Health and Human Services), the EPA has a set limit of 2 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water and 1 ppb in seafood. It’s striking that those limits are vastly different than what the FDA notes as “safe” dosages in childhood vaccines. According to the site,
‘the nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Methylmercury and metallic mercury vapors are more harmful than other forms, because more mercury in these forms reaches the brain. Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems. Short-term exposure to high levels of metallic mercury vapors may cause effects including lung damage, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increases in blood pressure or heart rate, skin rashes, and eye irritation.’
Not surprising, children are more sensitive to mercury than adults.