Saturday, November 13, 2010

Child Vaccination - Mercury

Thimerosal is a substance used in small quantities in some childhood and adult vaccines. Thimerosal contains 50% ethyl-mercury, and its role in vaccines is to act as a preservative. There is much controversy about the use of mercury in vaccines, and whether it is still infact being used by vaccine companies.1

Ethyl-mercury is a potent toxin.
"Ethyl mercury compounds display a very high toxicity not only for the brain, but also for the spinal motoneurones, peripheral nerves, skeletal muscles, and myocardium." - Cinca et al, 1979 23
"The scientific evidence that thimerosal causes reproductive toxicity is clear and voluminous. Thimerosal dissociates in the body to ethyl mercury.  The evidence for its reproductive toxicity includes severe mental retardation or malformations in human offspring who were poisoned when their mothers were exposed to ethyl mercury or thimerosal while pregnant, studies in animals demonstrating developmental toxicity after exposure to either ethyl mercury or thimerosal, and data showing interconversion to other forms of mercury that also clearly cause reproductive toxicity." - OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH HAZARD ASSESSMENT, 2004 2
"Potential Chronic Health Effects:Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Mutagenic for mammalian somatic cells. The substance may be toxic to kidneys, liver, spleen, bone marrow, central nervous system (CNS). Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage. Repeated exposure to a highly toxic material may produce general deterioration of health by an accumulation in one or many human organs." - MSDS Data Sheet 26
"There is a worldwide increasing concern over the neurological risks of thimerosal (ethylmercury thiosalicylate) which is an organic mercury compound that is commonly used as an antimicrobial preservative. In this study, we show that thimerosal, at nanomolar concentrations, induces neuronal cell death through the mitochondrial pathway. Thimerosal, in a concentration- and time-dependent manner, decreased cell viability… and caused apoptosis (programmed cell death)." 32
"Taken together these findings suggest deleterious (harmful) effects on the cytoarchitecture (cellular arrangement in the cerebral cortex of the brain) by thimerosal and initiation of mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis (programmed cell death)." 33
Information extracted from studies indicates that:
a) activity of low doses of Thimerosal against isolated human and animal brain cells was found in all studies and is consistent with Hg neurotoxicity;
(b) the neurotoxic effect of ethylmercury has not been studied with co-occurring adjuvant-Al in Thimerosal-containing vaccines;
(c) animal studies have shown that exposure to Thimerosal-Hg can lead to accumulation of inorganic Hg in brain, and that
(d) doses relevant to Thimerosal-containing vaccines exposure possess the potential to affect human neuro-development. Thimerosal at concentrations relevant for infants' exposure (in vaccines) is toxic to cultured human-brain cells and to laboratory animals. 44

Currently, ethyl-mercury is present in 11 licensed vaccines in the U.S.
Below is a current list of vaccines from the US FDA site, identifying which vaccines contain mercury (last updated June 20, 2012).

Trade Name
Pediatric Dose
Sanofi Pasteur,
≤ 0.3 µg
/0.5 mL dose
Persons 6 weeks
to 7 years, same dose
No Trade Name
Sanofi Pasteur,
< 0.3 µg
/0.5mL dose
Persons 6 weeks
to 7 years, same dose
Sanofi Pasteur,
25 µg
/0.5 mL dose
Persons 6 weeks
to 7 years, same dose
No Trade Name
Mass Biologics
≤ 0.3 µg
/0.5 mL dose
Persons 7 years and
over, same as
adult dose
Sanofi Pasteur,
≤ 0.3 µg
/0.5 mL dose
Persons 7 years and
over, same as adult dose
No Trade Name
Sanofi Pasteur,
25 µg
/0.5 mL dose
Persons 7 years and
over, same as adult dose

CSL Limited
0 (0.5mL
single dose)
24.5 µg (0.5 mL multidose)
Persons 5 years and
over, same as adult dose
(multi-dose presentation)
Sanofi Pasteur,
25 µg
/0.5 mL dose
Persons 6 months and
over, N/A
(multi-dose vial)
Novartis Vaccines
and Diagnostics Ltd.
25 µg
/0.5 ml dose
Persons 4 years and
over, same as adult dose
ID Biomedical
Corporation of Quebec
25 µg
/0.5 ml dose
Persons 18 years and
Menomune A, C, AC and A/C/Y/W-135
Sanofi Pasteur,
25 µg
/0.5 dose
Same as adult dose
Table Footnotes
Thimerosal is approximately 50% mercury (Hg) by weight. A 0.01% solution (1 part per 10,000) of thimerosal contains 50 µg of Hg per 1 ml dose or 25 µg of Hg per 0.5 ml dose.
Sanofi Pasteur's Tripedia may be used to reconstitute ActHib to form TriHIBit. TriHIBit is indicated for use in children 15 to 18 months of age.
This vaccine is not marketed in the US.
COMVAX is not licensed for use under 6 weeks of age because of decreased response to the Hib component.
Children under 3 years of age receive a half-dose of vaccine, i.e., 0.25 mL (12.5 µg mercury/dose.)
Note to New Zealander's: Mercury was used in the NZ infant vaccine schedule until 2000, when NZ moved to phase out all mercury containing vaccines in the NZ childhood vaccine schedule. In NZ, there are still 5 vaccines in use that contain mercury, including the flu shot, however none of the vaccines listed on the infants standard vaccine schedule contain mercury. 20

Is the level of Mercury in pediatric vaccines safe?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends ingesting no more than 0.1mcg of methyl-mercury per kg of body weight per day to avoid toxicity.4 This recommendation is for methyl, not ethyl mercury, which is the type of mercury contained in vaccines. There are very few studies on ethyl-mercury, and as such, there is no other choice but to use the EPA's recommendations for methyl-mercury. Studies on monkey's have shown, however, that once ethyl mercury enters the brain it converts to methyl mercury.30 Also keep in mind this is for 'ingesting' not 'injecting', injecting has a much more potent effect. Currently there are no recommendations for the limit of injected mercury to avoid toxicity, but bearing in mind the limit for ingested mercury, one would hope the limit for injected mercury should be well below it.

Using the EPA's guideline of 0.1mcg of mercury per kg of body weight per day, we can calculate that an average 7.5kg 6 month old infant therefore must not exceed 0.75mcg in a single day. With this example we can see that the current pediatric vaccines do finally fit within the EPA guidelines. Until recently this has not been the case. Many children in the past have received accumulated doses of mercury, most reaching between 30mcg and 100mcg by six months, exceeding the EPA's limit many times over throughout the infants first year.21  A study conducted by the CDC in 2000 examined these children and concluded:
"This analysis suggests that in our study population, the risk of tics, ADD, language and speech delays, and developmental delays in general may be increased by exposure to mercury from thimerosal containing vaccines during the first six months of life."21
In 2000 US government organisations jointly 'recommended' mercury be removed from vaccines, but did not make it mandatory (excerpt from the CDC website):
"The Public Health Service (including the FDA, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued two Joint Statements, urging vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal in vaccines as soon as possible (CDC 1999) and (CDC 2000)." 4 
However 11 different vaccines in the US still contain mercury, even though there's no need to. Vaccines don't have to contain mercury, they can be made without mercury, and thankfully many now are.18 There is now a fund set up by the US government for those children and their families who have suffered the damaging effects of vaccinations, called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.19
"Since the first Vaccine Injury Compensation claims were made in 1989, 3,149 compensation payments have been made, $2,396,574,630.52 disbursed to petitioners and $96,060,500.79 paid to cover attorney's fees and other legal costs."19
But I can never imagine there will be any public accountability or indication of actual wrong doing from the government or pharmaceutical companies. In the face of insurmountable evidence, their stance will always be to deny.

Symptoms of ethyl-mercury toxicity.
The damage mercury can do to a child depends on the child's ability to eliminate the toxin from the body. A child can have a high level of mercury in the blood or tissue but not yet manifest symptoms related to poisoning. Call it a threshold. But over time, even if you're exposed at low levels, the symptoms may manifest weeks, months or even years later. There are children who can not process mercury at all and these children are at the highest risk of mercury poisoning showing immediate symptoms. Some of the symptoms that may occur within hours, days or weeks of vaccination that indicate mercury poisoning include:
Gastrointestinal tract dysfunction, diarrhoea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, headache, fever, drowsiness, muscle weakness and pain, kidney damage, skin rashes and dermatitis. Damage to the nervous system, sight and speech impairment, twitching, gait, ataxia (loss of coordination), mood swings, memory loss, mental disturbances, cerebellar and cortical damage, and demyelination in the ninth and tenth cranial nerves.5, 23
Many of these symptoms are commonly seen in in those with Autism.6, 7, 25

Mercury in vaccines is linked to autism.
A thorough review of medical literature and U.S. government data indicates:
(i) that many and perhaps most cases of idiopathic autism, in which an extended period of developmental normalcy is followed by an emergence of symptoms, are induced by early exposure to Hg;
(ii) that this type of autism represents a unique form of Hg poisoning (HgP);
(iii) that excessive Hg exposure from thimerosal in vaccine injections is an etiological mechanism for causing the traits of autism;
(iv) that certain genetic and non-genetic factors establish a predisposition whereby thimerosal's adverse effects occur only in some children; and
(v) that vaccinal Hg in thimerosal is causing a heretofore unrecognized mercurial syndrome.8
The overwhelming evidence from the peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature favours acceptance that mercury exposure is capable of causing some Autism Spectrum Disorders, particularly in children who are biochemically and/or genomically susceptible to mercury intoxication.9
The children with Autism Spectrum Disorder had a significant dose-response relationship between the severity of the regressive Autism Spectrum Disorder and the total mercury dose children received from Thimerosal-containing vaccines/Rho (D)-immune globulin preparations, and suffered mercury toxic encephalopathies (brain injury) that manifested with clinical symptoms consistent with regressive Autism Spectrum Disorders.10
Children with severe Autism Spectrum Disorder had biomarkers consistent with mercury toxicity. This study concludes mercury intoxication is significantly associated with autistic symptoms.11
The data from this study, along with emerging epidemiological data showing a link between increasing mercury doses from childhood vaccines and childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, increases the likelihood that mercury is one of the main factors leading to the large increase in the rate of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.12
There was significant difference in blood mercury levels between cases and controls, which persists after adjustment for age, gender and parental occupational status. The geometric mean blood mercury level was also significantly higher in children with inattentive and combined subtypes of ADHD. High blood mercury level was associated with ADHD.28
This study demonstrates that the levels of mercury in the birth hair of autistic children were significantly lower than their control peers. While this may at first appear contradictory, it highlights one of the critical insights to understanding mercury poisoning and autistic children: many autistic children are non-excretors of mercury. This means their capacity to excrete mercury is significantly lower than their neurotypical peers and contributes to their condition.29
Boys who received the hepatitis B vaccine during the first month of life had 3 fold greater odds for ASD compared to boys vaccinated later or unvaccinated boys. 14, 36
Boys who were vaccinated with the Hep B triple series vaccine were 9 times more likely to need early intervention or special education services, than boys who were not vaccinated with the Hep B vaccine.13
This study presents the first epidemiologic evidence, based upon tens of millions of doses of vaccine administered in the United States, that associates increasing thimerosal from vaccines with neurodevelopmental disorders. Specifically, an analysis of the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database showed statistical increases in the incidence rate of:
  • autism - 6 fold more at risk
  • mental retardation - 6 fold more at risk
  • speech disorders - 2.2 fold more at risk
…after thimerosal-containing diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccines in comparison with thimerosal-free DTaP vaccines.30
Infants receiving vaccines with 100ug mercury more than other infants were:37
  • 2.6 fold more likely to have Autism
  • 2.2 fold more likely to have Autism spectrum disorders
  • 4.5 fold more likely to have Hyperkinetric syndrome of childhood
  • 1.8 fold more likely to have a developmental disorder or learning disorder not already specified
  • 3 fold more likely to have a disturbance of emotions specific to childhood and adolescence
  • 4 fold more likely to have Tics
The results showed the prevalence rate of Autism spectrum disorders among the grandchildren of pink disease (infantile mercury poisoning) survivors (1 in 22) to be significantly higher than the comparable general population prevalence rate (1 in 160). The results support the hypothesis that mercury sensitivity may be a heritable/genetic risk factor for Autism spectrum disorders.15
Thimerosal at low nanomolar (nM) concentrations induced significant cellular toxicity in human neuronal and fetal cells. Thimerosal-induced cytoxicity is similar to that observed in Autistic Disorder pathophysiologic studies.43
Biomarkers associated with the presence of heavy metals were found in the brains of mice injected with 12mcg of thimerosal per kg of bodyweight. The authors of the study note: As a result of the present findings, in combination with the brain pathology observed in patients diagnosed with autism, the present study helps to support the possible biological plausibility for how low-dose exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines may be associated with autism.34
Mercuric chloride stimulates vascular endothelial growth factor (a chemical signal produced by cells that stimulates the growth of new blood vessels) and Interleukin-6 (a protein that promotes inflammation) release from human mast cells. This phenomenon could disrupt the blood-brain-barrier and permit brain inflammation. As a result, the findings of the present study provide a biological mechanism for how low levels of mercury may contribute to ASD pathogenesis.35
Numerous neuropathological changes were observed in young adult rats which were treated postnatally with thimerosal. They included:38
  • Ischaemic (lack of blood flow) degeneration of neurons and "dark" neurons in the prefrontal cortex (part of the brain involved in planning complex cognitive behaviors, personality expression, decision making and moderating correct social behaviour), the temporal cortex (part of the brain involved with memory, speech, hearing, and some aspects of vision), the hippocampus (part of the brain involved in memory forming, spatial navigation, and emotion) and the cerebellum (part of the brain involving co-ordination, speech, attention, and emotion)
  • Pathological (harmful) changes of the blood vessels in the temporal cortex diminished synaptophysin reaction in the hippocampus (this reaction is associated with mental retardation)
  • Atrophy of astroglia (tissue that supports neurons) in the hippocampus and cerebellum
  • Positive caspase-3 reaction (promotes programmed cell death) in Bergmann astroglia (tissue that supports neurons located in the cerebellum)
These findings document neurotoxic effects of thimerosal, at doses equivalent to those used in infant vaccines or higher, in developing rat brain, suggesting likely involvement of this mercurial in neurodevelopmental disorders.38
Application of thimerosal to the prefrontal cortex (of rats)… evoked a rapid increase of glutamate overflow (glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that in excess leads to excitotoxicity, causing neuron damage or death). Since excessive accumulation of extracellular glutamate is linked with excitotoxicity, our data imply that neonatal exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines might induce excitotoxic brain injuries, leading to neurodevelopmental disorders.39

Environmental mercury is also linked to Autism.
The risk of autism was elevated by 50% in areas with the highest levels of chlorinated solvent and heavy metal air pollution. The highest risk compounds were mercury, cadmium, nickel, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride. Our results suggest a potential association between autism and estimated metal concentrations, and possibly solvents, in ambient air around the birth residence.40
On average, for each 1,000 lb of environmentally released mercury, there was a 43% increase in the rate of special education services and a 61% increase in the rate of autism. The association between environmentally released mercury and special education rates were fully mediated by increased autism rates.42
We suspect that persistent low-dose exposures to various environmental toxicants, including mercury, that occur during critical windows of neural development among genetically susceptible children (with a diminished capacity for metabolizing accumulated toxicants) may increase the risk for developmental disorders such as autism.41

Today, 1 in 88 children in the US are autistic, and 1 in 54 boys in the US are autisitc. This is nearly a doubling of prevalence since the CDC started tracking autism in 1992.22 Could this autism epidemic, so closely resembling mercury poisoning, be the result of mercury-tainted vaccine administration? While mercury levels in vaccines have thankfully declined due to concern from the scientific and public community, levels of aluminium in vaccines are at an all time high and well in excess of safety levels. Vaccine manufacturers reduced levels of one neurotoxin while simultaneously increasing another.

The history of vaccines is a long and sordid account of reckless experimentation, very little accountability, billion dollar profits and government involvement and suppression.24 Pharmaceutical companies will continue to reiterate publicly that vaccines have always been safe despite numerous studies to the contrary. After all who would want to admit to causing an epidemic of neurological damage?

Vaccination is a huge topic, mercury is just one issue relating to it. A series of posts addressing other issues relating to vaccinations will be posted in the future.

1. Frequently Asked Questions about Mercury and Thimerosal

2. Response to the petition of Bayer Corportation for clarification of the Proposition 65 lisitng of "Mercury and Mercury Compounds" as chemicals known to cause reproductive toxicity, California Environmental Protection Agency, February 2004

3. Mercury in Vaccines Chart, FDA

4. Thimerosal in Vaccines

5. Mercury Health Effects, EPA

6. Austism Related Conditions

7. Facts About ASDs

8. Autism: A Unique Type of Mercury Poisoning

9. A comprehensive review of mercury provoked autism

10.Biomarkers of environmental toxicity and susceptibility in autism

11. A Case Series of Children with Apparent Mercury Toxic Encephalopathies Manifesting with Clinical Symptoms of Regressive Autistic Disorders

12. A Case Control Study of Mercury Burden in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
James Adams, PhD [Arizona State University]. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeon, 2003.



15. Ancestry of pink disease (infantile acrodynia) identified as a risk factor for autism spectrum disorders.
Shandley K, et al. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2011 Sep 15;74(18):1185-94.

18. Alternatives to thiomersal as preservatives for vaccines WHO Informal Consultation to develop further guidance on vaccines for the UNEP-convened Intergovernmental, Negotiating Committee Meeting 4

19. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

20. New Zealand Immunisation Schedule, New Zealand Ministry of Health

21. Risk of neurologic and renal impairment associated with thimerosal containing vaccines
Thomas Verstraeten et al, 2000

22. Autism Hits 1 in 88 U.S. Kids, 1 in 54 Boys

23. Accidental ethyl mercury poisoning with nervous system, skeletal muscle, and myocardium injury
I CINCA et al, 1979

24. The great thimerosal cover-up: Mercury, vaccines, autism and your child's health, by Dawn Prate

25. Study: Gastrointestinal Symptoms Correlate with Autism Severity

26. Material Safety Data Sheet Thimerosal MSDS

28. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and blood mercury level: a case-control study in chinese children
P.R. Kong [Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, The University of Hong Kong].
Neuropediatrics, August 2006

29. Reduced Levels of Mercury in First Baby Haircuts of Autistic Children
Dr. Amy S. Holmes, Mark F. Blaxill, Boyd E. Haley, Ph.D. March 14, 2003
International Journal of Toxicology

30. Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal Thomas Burbacher, PhD [University of Washington]. Environmental Health Perspectives, Aug 2005. 

31. Neurodevelopmental disorders after thimerosal containing vaccines: a brief communication
Mark R. Geier and David A. Geier, 2003

32. Thimerosal induces neuronal cell apoptosis by causing cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor release from mitochondria.
Yel L, Brown LE, et al, S.Department of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 2006http://http/

33. Mitochondrial mediated thimerosal-induced apoptosis in a human neuroblastoma cell line (SK-N-SH). Humphrey ML, et al. Department of Pharmacology, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall University, Huntington, WV 25704-9388, USA. Neurotoxicology. 2005

34. Induction of metallothionein in mouse cerebellum and cerebrum with low-dose thimerosal injection.
Minami T, et al, Department of Life Sciences, School of Science & Engineering, Kinki University, 3-4-1 Kowakae, Higashi-osaka, Osaka, 577-8502, Japan. Cell Biology and Toxicology. 2009

35. Mercury induces inflammatory mediator release from human mast cells
Duraisamy Kempuraj et al, Journal of Neuroinflammation 2010, 7:20 doi:10.1186/1742-2094-7-20

36. Hepatitis B Vaccination of Male Neonates and Autism
CM Gallagher et al, Annals of Epidemiology , Vol. 19, September 2009: 651-680, p. 659

37. Thimerosal exposure in infants and neurodevelopmental disorders: An assessment of computerized medical records in the Vaccine Safety Datalink. Young HA, Geier DA, Geier MR.The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, United States.

38. Lasting neuropathological changes in rat brain after intermittent neonatal administration of thimerosal.
Folia Neuropathol. 2010;48(4):258-69. Olczak M, Duszczyk M, Mierzejewski P, Wierzba-Bobrowicz T, Majewska MD.
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology of the Nervous System, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, ul. Sobieskiego 9, Warsaw, Poland.,20,15811,1,1.html

39. Administration of thimerosal to infant rats increases overflow of glutamate and aspartate in the prefrontal cortex: protective role of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate.
Neurochem Res. 2012 Feb;37(2):436-47. Epub 2011 Oct 21.
Duszczyk-Budhathoki M, Olczak M, Lehner M, Majewska MD. Marie Curie Chairs Program, Department of Pharmacology and Physiology of Nervous System, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, 02-957, Warsaw, Poland.

40. Autism Spectrum Disorders in Relation to Distribution of Hazardous Air Pollutants in the SF Bay Area
Environmental Health Perspectives – Vol. 114 No. 9, September, 2006
Gayle Windham, Div. of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control, California Department of Health Services

41. Proximity to point sources of environmental mercury release as a predictor of autism prevalence
Health & Place, 2008. Raymond F. Palmer, Stephen Blanchard, Robert Wood

42. Environmental mercury release, special education rates, and autism disorder: an ecological study of Texas
Health & Place, 2006. Raymond F. Palmer, University of Texas Health Science Center

43. Mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired oxidative-reduction activity, degeneration, and death in human neuronal and fetal cells induced by low-level exposure to thimerosal and other metal compounds
D.A. Geier et al. Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry Volume 91, Issue 4, 2009 pages 735-749

44. Integrating experimental (in vitro and in vivo) neurotoxicity studies of low-dose thimerosal relevant to vaccines.
Dórea JG. Neurochem Res. 2011 Jun;36(6):927-38. PMID: 21350943. Faculty of Health Sciences, Universidade de Brasília, CP 04322, 70919-970, Brasília, DF, Brazil.


  1. Hi there I'm originally from NZ but have lived in Australia for 3 years, my 4 yr old son is unimmunised but I understand there is a recent outbreak of Measles in Auckland. We are holidaying in Auckland next month and are considering immunising our son for Measles. Would you happen to know if MMR vaccine contains Thymerisol in Australia? Also is it possible to receive the Measles vaccine on it's own. We are reluctant to immunise at all but are trying to be sensible about this for obvious reasons. I appreciate your thoughts. Thanks

  2. No, as far as I know no MMR vaccine contains thimerosal. They do not contain aluminum either.

    I personally wouldn't vaccinate our boys (we have 3 under 6) despite an outbreak.

    This year in the US there have been 6 times more vaccine injuries than measles cases. There have been 698 FDA Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports related to MMR, MMRV (MMR plus varicella) and measles vaccines in 2011 — including 4 deaths and 280 emergency room visits. Of the 118 measles cases so far this year, 90% of them are linked to cases in other countries, none had encephalitis and none died.

    What's more alarming, is that only 1% of adverse reactions to vaccines are reported to VAERS.

    Here's the article

    However, I would never forgive myself if you decided not to vaccinate your son, and he got measles because of it. Ultimately as a parent you've got to make your own decision and be responsible for any consequences.

  3. Thanks so much for this information, those statitics are thought provoking to say the least!

    Thanks again