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    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    Dumbing Down: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has been speaking out against childhood vaccines - well, actually against the old ones that contained thimerosal. Michael Fumento points out the many holes in his arguement:

    Thus in his June 21 appearance on MSNBC TV's Scarborough Country, Kennedy told Joe Scarborough, 'We are injecting our children with 400 times the amount of mercury that FDA or EPA considers safe.' He thereby confused the ETHYL mercury from thimerosal and for which there is no evidence of harm and no EPA standard with a different chemical, 'METHYL mercury.'

    Worse, he ignored the correction to his piece appended five days earlier by the publications that co-published it, Rolling Stone and Salon.com. 'The article also misstated the level of' mercury infants received, it stated. It was '40 percent [or 0.4 times], not 187 times, greater than the EPA's limit for daily exposure to methyl mercury.' Thus having been caught overstating exposure by almost 500 times he then doubled even that for Scarborough!

    There are many more corrections added to the original piece, too. Just scroll down.

    P.S. The most exasperating thing about this whole thimerosal debate is the confusion between the two types of mercury. Methyl Ethyl mercury, since it isn't the type found most commonly in the environment, has not been extensively studied. Here's what we know so far about methyl mercury and the human body [Ed. note: I apparently have the same problem as Kennedy in keeping the two types straight.]:

    NIAID-supported studies at the University of Rochester and National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, looked at levels of mercury in blood and other samples from 61 infants who had received routine immunizations with thimerosal-containing vaccines.

    What types of samples were assessed?

    Mercury levels were measured in blood, urine, and stool samples from infants at different times up to 28 days after vaccination. Researchers also looked at levels of mercury in samples of breast milk, mother's hair, and infant formula.

    What were the primary results obtained from assessment of these samples?

    * Blood levels of mercury were uniformly below safety guidelines for methyl mercury for all infants in this study.
    * Mercury was cleared from the blood in infants exposed to thimerosal faster than would be predicted for methyl mercury.
    * Infants excreted significant amounts of mercury in stool after thimerosal exposure, thus removing mercury from their bodies

    What can be concluded from the results of the Rochester study?

    These results suggest that there are differences in the way that thimerosal and methyl mercury are distributed, metabolized, and excreted. Thimerosal appears to be removed from the blood and body more rapidly than methyl mercury.

    One of the reasons that the CDC decided to recommend avoiding thimerosal in vaccines was that they wanted to err on the side of caution. However, no amount of precaution seems to be enough for activists.

    UPDATE: Orac has more.

    posted by Sydney on 7/02/2005 08:24:00 AM 0 comments


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