What about Mercury? Getting Thimerosal Out of Vaccines

Issue 105, March/April 2001
By Lisa Reagan

SyringeIn his opening statement to the House Committee on Government Reform’s hearing on mercury and medicine on June 18, 2000, Congressman Daniel Burton (R-Indiana) stated, “We assume that the FDA would protect our children from exposure to any level of mercury through drugs. But that has not been the case. Thimerosal was first marketed in 1930 and has become the most widely used preservative in vaccines. It is present in over 50 licensed vaccines. The FDA recently acknowledged that in the first six months of life children get more mercury than is considered safe by the EPA. The truth is that sometimes kids go to their doctor’s office and get four or five vaccines at the same time. My grandson received vaccines for nine different diseases in one day. He might have been exposed to 62.5 micrograms of mercury in one day through his vaccines. According to his weight, the maximum safe level of mercury that he should be exposed to in one day is 1.51 micrograms. This is 41 times the amount at which harm can be caused.” Burton’s grandson, who was healthy before he received the shots, now suffers from autism.

Burton and Congressman Henry A. Waxman (D-California) have written to Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala requesting that a panel be convened to look at the mercury issue. “If your position is that we should base our policies on good science and good research, then fine. I agree with you 100 percent. But if you are not willing to do the research, if you are not even willing to ask the questions, then we have a real problem on our hands,” Burton said in the letter to Shalala. Burton was a keynote speaker at the National Vaccine Information Center’s conference in September 2000.

On July 9, 1999, the US Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a joint statement recommending the removal of thimerosal from vaccines. On May 31, 2000, the FDA notified vaccine manufacturers that its review of mercury compounds in drugs and foods concluded that reducing or eliminating thimerosal from vaccines is merited.

“One would think that the FDA would have moved aggressively to remove vaccines that contained mercury from the market immediately. They did not….The FDA continues to allow the mercury-containing vaccines to remain on the market. Today, over 8,000 children in America may be given a toxic dose of mercury in their vaccines,” said Burton.

The mercury problem’s been investigated in many congressional hearings in the last three years. A number of retailers and hospitals, including Walgreens and Wal-Mart, have begun voluntarily to take products containing mercury off their shelves and inventories.1

Another speaker at the NVIC conference, Stephanie Cave, MD, said, “Mercury poisoning and autism have nearly identical symptoms: self-injurious behavior, social withdrawal, lack of eye contact, lack of facial ex pression, hypersensitivity to noise and touch, and repetitive behaviors.”

Noting that the EPA safe limit for mercury exposure is .1 micrograms per kilo per day, Cave said, “The mercury has left its mark in the brains and immune systems of these children…. The body gets rid of mercury by secreting bile, but an infant does not produce bile at this age. In the hepatitis B vaccine alone, we are giving 12.5 mcg at birth, 12.5 mcg at a month, 50 mcg at two months, 50 mcg at four months, and 62.5 mcg at 6 months, and if you do your math, we’re giving a load of mercury to these children before they can make bile and can get rid of it.”

The FDA, Burton said at the conference, determined that mercury compounds used as active ingredients in over-the-counter drug products weren’t “generally recognized as safe.” Additionally, the FDA doesn’t consider any mercury-containing compounds to be “generally recognized as safe.” On its own website (www.fda.gov), the FDA states, “Lead, cadmium, and mercury are examples of elements that are toxic when present at relatively low levels.”

“How is it that mercury is not safe for food additives and over-the-counter drug products, but it is safe in our vaccines and dental amalgams?” Burton asked. He recommended that all parents who choose to vaccinate request monovalent, mercury-free forms of vaccines.

To see the transcripts of the congressional hearing on mercury in medicine, you can go to www.house.gov/reform/hearings/healthcare/00.07.18/index.htm. To view the ARC Research chart listing the symptoms of mercury poisoning and autism, go to www.autism.com/ari/mercurylong.html.

NOTES

1. Karen Pallarito, “DC Hospitals, National Retailers Agree to Ban Mercury-Containing Products,” Reuters Health Online, September 27, 2000.

Lisa Regan resides in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband, Keith, a portfolio manager, and their son, Collins (3). She is the president of Families for Natural Living (www.FamiliesForNaturalLiving.org), a nonprofit that provides both information to the public and support to families.

For more information on vaccines see the Mothering Reprint: Vaccines: Mercury, Autism and Chronic Disease