Predicted mercury concentrations in hair from infant immunizations: cause for concern.
Neurotoxicology. 2001 Oct ;22(5):691-7. PMID: 11770890
Mercury (Hg) is considered one of the worlds most toxic metals. Current thinking suggests that exposure to mercury occurs primarily from seafood contamination and rare catastrophic events. Recently, another common source of exposure has been identified. Thimerosal (TMS), a preservative found in many infant vaccines, contains 49.6% ethyl mercury (EtHg) by weight and typically contributes 25 microg of EtHg per dose of infant vaccine. As part of an ongoing review, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in 1999 that infants who received multiple TMS-preserved vaccines may have been exposed to cumulative Hg in excess of Federal safety guidelines. According to the centers for disease control (CDC) recommended immunization schedule, infants may have been exposed to 12.5 microg Hg at birth, 62.5 microg EtHg at 2 months, 50 microg EtHg at 4 months, 62.5 microg EtHg at 6 months, and 50 microg EtHg at approximately 18 months, for a total of 237.5 microg EtHg during the first 18 months of life, if all TMS-containing vaccines were administered. Neurobehavioral alterations, especially to the more susceptible fetus and infant, are known to occur after relatively low dose exposures to organic mercury compounds. In effort, to further elucidate the levels of ethyl mercury resulting from exposure to vaccinal TMS, we estimated hair Hg concentrations expected to result from the recommended CDC schedule utilizing a one compartment pharmacokinetic model. This model was developed to predict hair concentrations from acute exposure to methymercury (MeHg) in fish. Modeled hair Hg concentrations in infants exposed to vaccinal TMS are in excess of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety guidelines of 1 ppm for up to 365 days, with several peak concentrations within this period. More sensitive individuals and those with additional sources of exposure would have higher Hg concentrations. Given that exposure to low levels of mercury during critical stages of development has been associated with neurological disorders in children, including ADD, learning difficulties, and speech delays, the predicted hair Hg concentration resulting from childhood immunizations is cause for concern. Based on these findings, the impact which vaccinal mercury has had on the health of American children warrants further investigation.