Mercury, Vaccines, And Autism: One Controversy, Much Propaganda 8 February 2008
Michael F. Wagnitz,
National Autism Association

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In the article, "Mercury, Vaccines, and Autism: One Controversy, Three Histories" the author, while trying to sound impartial, misrepresents several facts in order to support his conclusions. He starts by citing the many findings of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) without mentioning that the IOM was commissioned by the CDC to issue a report on "Vaccines and Autism." The CDC approves, mandates, promotes, and distributes vaccines. He does not mention that every member of the IOM committee had ties to the vaccine program (1). There were no independent toxicologists on this committee. One would think this would be important when considering the safety of mercury in vaccines.

The author cites the inventors of thimerosal and writes, "extensive in vitro testing shows that thimerosal was 40 to 50 times as effective as phenol against Staphylococcus aureus." He then claims "concerns over neurotoxicity in infants receiving thimerosal from vaccines were never raised by medical or government authorities before the late 1990s." This is false. In 1982, an independent panel was convened by the FDA (2). The panel called for the removal of mercury, including thimerosal, from all over-the-counter products. It declared thimerosal as being both unsafe and ineffective. It was singled out as being "no better than water in protecting mice from fatal streptococcal infection." It was shown to be 35.5 times more toxic to embryonic chicken heart tissue than the aforementioned Staphylococcus aureus.

He goes on to declare that the "comparatively miniscule exposures [of thimerosal] involved in vaccines were well within all published guidelines for mercury exposure." Unfortunately, he never took the time to analyze a vaccine vial for mercury concentration. The Hepatitis B vaccine, administered at birth for over ten years, contained 25,000 parts per billion (ppb) of mercury in the multi-dose vaccine vial. The multi-dose DTP and Haemophilus B vaccine vials, administered 4 times each in the 1990s to children at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age, contained 50,000 ppb mercury. According to the EPA, any liquid that contains more than 200 ppb mercury is to be classified as hazardous waste based on toxicity (3). It's hard to believe that a level of mercury 250 times higher than hazardous waste levels would be referred to as "miniscule." The fact is, on any given day of receiving even a single thimerosal containing vaccine in the 1990s, all published guidelines for mercury exposure were exceeded.

Several pages of the paper examine the toxicity of methylmercury and its past use as a fungicide. We are led to believe that this form of mercury is much different than ethylmercury, the type found in vaccines. This is in spite of the fact that ethylmercury was used for the same purpose. In fact, Ethylmercurric Chloride, the material used as a fungicide (which was banned long ago) is what is used to make thimerosal. This can be easily confirmed by looking in a Merck Index. We now know that this type of mercury deposits twice as much inorganic mercury in the brains of primates as compared to equal doses of methylmercury (4). Inorganic mercury, following the de-methylation of organic mercury, has been identified as the primary neurotoxic agent in primate studies (5).

The author mentions the book, "Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic" by David Kirby. It contains 436 scientific references. The author did not disclose if he read the book. This may have helped his argument since this book was read by many parents of autistic children.

We are then told about the impact of trial lawyers concerning this situation. The author does not disclose how much money has been awarded to trial lawyers who represent autistic children. It's my understanding that this number is zero.

(1) http://www.iom.edu/subpage.asp?id5981  

(2) U.S. Food and Drug Administration, proposed rules, Federal Register 47/436-01, January 5, 1982.

(3) http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/mercury/regs.htm#hazwaste  

(4) Burbacher T, Shen D, Liberato N, Grant K, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T. 2005. Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. Environmental Health Perspectives. 113:1015-1021.

(5) Charleston J, Body R, Bolender R, Mottet N, Vahter M, Burbacher T. 1996. Changes in the number of astrocytes and microglia in the thalamus of the monkey Macaca fascicularis following long-term subclinical methylmercury exposure. Neurotoxicology. 17:127-138.


Reputation Of Vaccines And The People Who Defend Them http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/eletters/121/3/621#36839 13 March 2008
Michael F. Wagnitz,
National Autism Association

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Re: Reputation Of Vaccines And The People Who Defend Them

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Parents get angry when they see the following numbers listed on the internet. These numbers have been out there for everyone to read for years. They are mathamatical facts backed by references. The way to quell parental fears would be for someone like Dr. Parikh to address these numbers. Using propaganda is not going to work and only makes the situation worse.

0.5 parts per billion (ppb) mercury = Kills human neuroblastoma cells (Parran et al., Toxicol Sci 2005; 86: 132-140).

2 ppb mercury = U.S. EPA limit for drinking water http://www.epa.gov/safewater/contaminants/index.html#mcls

20 ppb mercury = Neurite membrane structure destroyed (Leong et al., Neuroreport 2001; 12: 733-37).

200 ppb mercury = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste. http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/mercury/regs.htm#hazwaste

25,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in the Hepatitis B vaccine, administered at birth in the U.S., from 1990-2001.

50,000 ppb Mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose DTaP and Haemophilus B vaccine vials, administered 4 times each in the 1990's to children at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age. Current "preservative" level mercury in multi-dose flu (94% of supply), meningococcal and tetanus (7 and older) vaccines. This can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi- dose vials.


Conflict of Interest:

Father of a child labeled as autistic