Tag: mercury poisoning

What Level of Mercury Is Considered Toxic?

Why would an Arizona State Representative be posting about mercury and flu shots?

It’s easy to figure out once you look at the rest of her posts…

What Level of Mercury Is Considered Toxic?

We should start off by correcting a few things in Representative Kelly Townsend’s post.

The mercury in a thimerosal containing flu vaccine is ethylmercury, not methylmercury, the type that we might be exposed to in a can of tuna.

And mercury is only considered to be toxic if you are exposed in specific ways, at specific levels, and depending on the length of exposure.

“In case reports of accidental high-dose exposures in humans to thimerosal or ethylmercury toxicity was demonstrated only at exposures that were 100 or 1000 times that found in vaccines.”

FDA on Thimerosal in Vaccines Questions and Answers

Not only is the ethylmercury in vaccines not toxic, since only a small percentage of flu vaccines now contain thimerosal and you almost have to go out of your way to get a vaccine with thimerosal, you have to wonder why Representative Kelly Townsend is posting about it?!?

If she is really concerned about mercury toxicity, she should be sure that the EPA is truly doing everything they can to reduce mercury pollution and our exposure to mercury. She shouldn’t be scaring folks away from vacinating and protecting their kids.

Still, I guess it is much better than some of her other recent anti-vaccine posts, like the one that is said to have compared mandatory vaccinations to forced number tattoos

More on Toxic Levels of Mercury

Did Trump Lay the Groundwork to Ban Mandatory Vaccinations?

Have you heard that Donald Trump is going to ban mandatory vaccinations?

Or that he is going to ban childhood vaccinations all together?

Guess what?

That’s right, neither is true.

Did Trump Lay the Groundwork to Ban Mandatory Vaccinations?

To be sure, anti-vaccine folks were likely excited when Donald Trump was elected President.

Donald Trump's vaccine and autism tweet.

In addition to his tweets that tried to associate vaccines with autism, there were reports that he was going to set up a committee on vaccine safety that would be headed by Robert F Kennedy, Jr!

So the idea that he might try to ban vaccines was probably thought of as a safe bet for some.

Fortunately, it wasn’t.

Which vaccines kids need to go to daycare and school are mandated by state law. Despite what some folks might think, there are no federal vaccine mandates.

While there is a new a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights, it doesn't ban vaccinations.
While there is a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights, it doesn’t ban vaccinations.

And even with the announcement of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), there is no ban on mandatory vaccinations across the United States.

“The creation of the new division will provide HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom, the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights.”

HHS Announces New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

Could you interpret this is laying the groundwork for allowing religious exemptions to vaccines?

Again, vaccine mandates are set by state law, so no, you shouldn’t. Anyway, almost all states already allow religious exemptions to getting vaccinated, even though no major religion is actually against vaccinating and protecting kids from life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Conscience protections apply to health care providers who refuse to perform, accommodate, or assist with certain health care services on religious or moral grounds.”

Conscience Protections for Health Care Providers

A proposed rule, Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority, that might have affected vaccines funded by Federal medical assistance programs, never took effect. In fact, the White House urged HHS to not finalize the rule after the Office of Management and Budget said they weren’t complying with necessary rules to get it implemented on time.

 “The AAP wishes to underscore its recognition of the important role of religion in the personal,spiritual, and social lives of many individuals, including health providers. Balancing that role with efforts to ensure children have appropriate access to needed health and social services is critical to meeting their health needs and supporting their health and well being. As HHS considers potential changes to regulations and policy guidance to encourage the provision of grants and contracts to faith-based organizations, we urge you to ensure that federal policy does not undermine children’s access to needed care and services.”

Collen Kraft, MD, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Not surprisingly, major medical associations were against the proposed rule, and not just because of potential effects on vaccines, even though it wouldn’t have actually banned vaccines.

“The proposal would dramatically expand the discretion that religious or moral objectors have to refuse care without meaningful safeguards to ensure that the rights of those receiving care are protected.”

AMA on HHS should withdraw proposal on health care conscience rights

Sadly, as Kennedy and many anti-vaccine folks focus and what they think are toxins and poisons in vaccines, they seem to be ignoring the fact that Donald Trump is going to expose our kids to many more real toxins and poisons through his efforts to slash Clean Water Act protections and other EPA regulations.

At least we can look forward to no bans on mandatory vaccines, even though many parents continue to abuse existing vaccine exemptions, putting us all at risk.

More on Trump and Vaccine Policy

Myths About Thimerosal in Vaccines

Over the years, especially since thimerosal was removed from most vaccines, the myths about thimerosal have surprising been increasing.

“Currently, the actions taken by the vaccine manufacturers, the FDA and the CDC have increased the possible maximum childhood exposure to mercury from vaccines to twice the level that triggered the 1999 call to remove mercury from all vaccines as soon as possible!”

Rev. Lisa K. Sykes on “Ten Lies” Told About Mercury in Vaccines

Of course, none of them are true.

Myths About Thimerosal in Vaccines

To begin with, there was no “call to remove mercury from all vaccines as soon as possible.”

Instead, as a “precautionary measure,” the AAP asked vaccine manufacturers “for a clear commitment and a plan to eliminate or reduce as expeditiously as possible the mercury content of their vaccines.”

“In addition, today most tetanus shots and the multi-dose Sanofi Menomune vaccine that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still contain 25-micrograms-a-dose mercury.”

Rev. Lisa K. Sykes on “Ten Lies” Told About Mercury in Vaccines

Other myths about thimerosal include that:

  • After “realizing” the amount of mercury in the childhood vaccination schedule recommended by the CDC exceeded all national and global maximum safety limits, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Public Health Service called for the immediate removal of Thimerosal from all vaccines on July 7, 1999. – the amount of thimerosal in the childhood immunization schedule actually only exceeded EPA guidelines and was well below the guidelines of the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) or the FDA. Also, since thimerosal-free versions of DTaP and Hib have always been available, only “a minority of infants could receive as much as 187.5 mcg of ethylmercury during the first 6 months of life.”
  • children are getting even more mercury from vaccines today than when mercury was removed from vaccines, because pregnant women and kids get flu shots now – this theory doesn’t take into account that thimerosal-free flu vaccines have been available since 2003 and until recently, many kids didn’t get flu shots. For example, during the 2008-09 flu season, only 25% infants and toddlers were fully vaccinated against flu and even fewer pregnant women got flu shots (about 15%). The only way this myth could possibly be true would be if these folks all got a flu vaccine with thimerosal each and every year.
  • even as thimerosal was removed from the DTaP, Hib, and hepatitis B vaccines, kids still got exposed to thimerosal from other vaccines, like Menomume, the meningococcal vaccine –  Although Menomume contained thimerosal, it had only been recommended for high risk kids since it was approved in 1981. It was later replaced by Menactra and Menveo, both of which are thimerosal-free, and which were recommended to all kids as they provided better coverage. Menomume was discontinued in 2017 and it is unlikely that many kids got it once Menactra and Menveo became available.
  • kids still get a tetanus shot with thimerosal – yes, they did, at least until the Tdap vaccines were approved in 2006. Tdap is thimerosal-free.
  • Thimerosal has never undergone even one modern safety test. – although mercury can be toxic, the thimerosal in vaccines has been shown to be safe. That’s not surprising – remember, “the dose makes the poison.”
  • Published studies have shown that Thimerosal and its mercury breakdown product contribute to: Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Arthritis, Food Allergies, Premature Puberty, and Infertility. – thimerosal in vaccines doesn’t cause any of these things, but you can probably find a published study somewhere saying that thimerosal causes Alzheimer’s, cancer, or food allergies, etc., but that just points to how important it is to look to trusted sources of information, as almost anyone can publish a bad study
  • Contrary to sound bites you hear on the nightly news, to be “anti-mercury” is not to be “anti-vaccine.” – if this is true, then why did Robert F. Kennedy, Jr write an editorial against University of Colorado students who passed a resolution for meningococcal B vaccines, which are thimerosal-free? And why push so much propaganda about thimerosal?
  • Corresponding to the sharply increasing level of mercury in the immunization schedule globally, which started in the late 1980’s, there has been an increasing rate of autism among children. This also explains why autism among 40-, 50-, 60-, 70- and 80-year-olds is not epidemic, but rather rare. – this is one of the main problems of the anti-vaccine movement… if you believe that autism is an epidemic, then there must be a cause and it becomes easy to blame vaccines. You also have to ignore the fact that there are plenty of autistic adults.
  • Among the Amish who do not vaccinate, the rate of autism is strikingly low. – there are autistic Amish
  • Unused vaccines with a preservative level of Thimerosal, however, are considered hazardous waste because of their high mercury content. If not injected into patients, discarded vials of these mercury-preserved vaccines, therefore, must be disposed of in steel drums, by law. – this is not true – at all… you also don’t have to call a Hazmat team if you break an unused vaccine vial with thimerosal…
  • …instead of requiring immediate removal, the CDC allowed the pharmaceutical companies to save money by using up their inventories of mercury-containing vaccines. By 2003, the industry had finally used up stocks of thimerosal-containing vaccines and Thimerosal is no longer used in these three vaccines. – the only basis for this statement is that the last thimerosal containing DTaP, Hib, and hepatitis B vaccines expired in 2003, but it is important to keep in mind that most vaccines are used well before their expiration date. In fact, many doctors order vaccines every month, so as to not keep large supplies of vaccines in their office, and since thimerosal-free versions were already available, those likely would have been ordered.
  • The term “trace amounts” means less than 1 microgram (mcg). Thimerosal-containing flu shots contain what in biochemical terms is actually a massive dose of mercury: 25 mcg. – vaccines labeled as having a trace amount of thimerosal have less than or equal to 1mcg, while others are clearly labeled as having up to 25mcg.
  • Why do I call that massive? Because the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum exposure limits for methyl mercury is .1 microgram per 1 kilogram of bodyweight, which means a baby would have to weigh 550 pounds to safely absorb 25 micrograms of mercury. At these levels, a growing fetus in a mother receiving the flu shot could get up to a million times the EPA’s safe levels. – wait, what? First, that is the maximum recommended daily exposure limit based on the assumption that the exposure to mercury will continue for long periods of time. That’s not the case when a pregnant woman gets a one time flu shot. And it is the pregnant mother who is getting the flu shot, not the baby. Although some thimerosal will cross the placenta, it is still not in levels that will cause harm, so calling the dose massive ends up just being an obvious propaganda tool to scare folks.

The review, Thimerosal and Autism?, explains why autism and mercury poison really don't share symptoms.
The review, Thimerosal and Autism?, explains why autism and mercury poison really don’t share the same symptoms.

  • Autism and mercury poisoning have the same symptoms. – they don’t… In fact, there are many reports of epidemics of mercury poisoning throughout history that weren’t associated with autism, including in Minamata and Niigata, Japan, exposures from mercury in teething powders and worm medicines (pink disease), and food contamination in many countries.

“Yet mercury had long been the every-day treatment of infants at the time of teething in the form of teething powders.”

Ann Dally on The Rise and Fall of Pink Disease

Although it is hard to believe now, mercury wasn’t taken out of teething powders until 1957, after which time pink disease quickly disappeared. Why was mercury in teething powders in the first place? Unlike thimerosal in vaccines, I don’t think it was acting as a preservative, as it sounds like it was present in very high doses. So there was a lot of risk with no benefit.

Sounds like the opposite of what we had with thimerosal in vaccines – lots of benefit (vaccines didn’t get contaminated) with no risk.

But taking thimerosal out of vaccines was risk-free too, wasn’t it?

Nope. That’s another myth.

“Unfortunately, the precautions taken by the AAP and CDC calling for thimerosal removal from vaccines appears to have led to unintended risks. In particular, inappropriate recommendations by autism advocacy groups regarding treatment of autism (e.g., use of chelation) and avoidance of vaccines (e.g., influenza vaccine) may mislead parents to place children at unnecessary risks.”

Hurley et al on Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Autism: A Review of Recent Epidemiologic Studies

In addition to anti-vaccine folks continuing to push myths about thimerosal to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, some missed out on getting vaccinated and caught life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.

What to Know About Thimerosal in Vaccines Myths

Don’t believe any of the myths about thimerosal in vaccines. Vaccines are safe and necessary.

More on Thimerosal in Vaccines Myths