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Why The Ongoing Thimerosal (Mercury) Travesty Needs To End

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The lessons learned from the ongoing saga of thimerosal are significant to all who care about vaccine safety, want justice for the injured, and to prevent future harm. The government has said they corrected the thimerosal issue and want us to believe the case is closed. But has the public been fooled with swapping one heavy metal toxicity for another? While thimerosal is still in some flu shots and is especially harmful to pregnant women, infants and children, there are increasing amounts of aluminum exposures from vaccines as more shots are added to the schedule. Like early reports about mercury, now children’s toxic profiles show alarming amounts of aluminum. And the problems don’t end with heavy metals. There are other vaccine contaminants that can cause harm, like retroviruses, formaldehyde, and aborted human fetal tissue. In short, we are in desperate need of an agency that can protect our citizens, especially children, from vaccine injuries. How can the controversy and handling of thimerosal-containing vaccines instruct us as we move forward for real reform?

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Thimerosal is the infamous mercury-containing preservative in use, to this day, in some vaccines and also in dozens of other pharmaceutical products approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).1-3 Public health agencies, government regulators and medical trade groups have repeatedly declared thimerosal to be safe,4,5 but the published peer-reviewed science argues that nothing could be further from the truth. For anyone who bothers to investigate thimerosal’s appalling record, there is a vast, still accumulating and compelling body of research that contradicts the public health establishment’s deceptive safety claims.

Thimerosal is almost 50 percent ethylmercury by weight. Ethylmercury is an organic mercury compound with toxicity mechanisms similar to methylmercury6 (the hazardous type of mercury in seafood). The danger posed by both types of mercury was evident in earlier eras when fungicides containing either ethyl- or methylmercury poisoned farmers, sometimes on a large scale, from the 1950s through the 1970s.7,8 Of the two compounds, the ethylmercury in vaccines is far more toxic to and persistent in the brain, where it has a propensity to accumulate as inorganic mercury,9,10 with an estimated half-life of as long as twenty-seven years.11

HISTORY OF THIMEROSAL

Before the invention of modern antibiotics and antiseptics, physicians experimented with mercury-containing compounds to try to stave off microbial pathogens. Thimerosal was born of those efforts. Dr. Morris Kharasch, a university chemist and Eli Lilly fellow, developed thimerosal and filed for a patent in June, 1929, describing thimerosal as an “alkyl mercuric sulfur compound” with antibacterial properties. Eli Lilly and Company registered thimerosal under the trade name Merthiolate later that year.

Eli Lilly researchers reported in 1931 that animals seemed to tolerate high doses of thimerosal. However, many of those animals died of evident mercury poisoning just days after the study ended. Also noteworthy is the fact that in early animal toxicity studies and many later research efforts, researchers did not assess socialization behaviors or perform cognition tests. In other words, they did not consider the possibility of mercury-induced brain damage.

During this same time period, the Eli Lilly researchers reported on the first injections of thimerosal into humans. The unlucky recipients of large doses of Merthiolate were twenty-two patients hospitalized during a 1929 epidemic of meningococcal meningitis in Indianapolis. The thimerosal had no apparent therapeutic benefit, and all twenty-two patients died—seven of them within one day of thimerosal administration. The researchers nevertheless described the experiment as a success, and a published paper stated that “these large doses did not produce any anaphylactoid or shock symptoms” (neither of which is associated with toxic mercury exposure). However, the clinician who treated the meningitis patients apparently was not convinced of thimerosal’s efficacy, stating, “Beneficial effects of the drug were not definitely proven.” Moreover, any short-term neurological or other deleterious effects of the thimerosal would likely have been masked by or attributed to the patients’ meningitis infections.

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For decades, Eli Lilly promoted its confident version of the Indianapolis results as evidence of thimerosal’s safety, paving the way for thimerosal’s inclusion in various antiseptic products, including nasal sprays, eyewashes, vaginal spermicides and diaper rash treatments. This escalation of thimerosal use in consumer products occurred despite numerous studies from the 1930s showing that thimerosal was not, in fact, “highly germicidal” and actually was more effective at destroying human cells than killing pathogens. Thimerosal never measured up to its supposed raison d’être of safely preventing microbial contamination, and studies continued to chalk up clear and unequivocal evidence that thimerosal was deadly to human cells.

THIMEROSAL IN VACCINES

Nonetheless, starting in the 1930s, pharmaceutical companies began to use thimerosal in multidose vials of vaccine to extend shelf life and lessen the risk of bacterial and fungal contamination that arises when several doses are drawn from the same vial. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines allow health providers to administer extra doses from multidose vials up until the printed expiration date “if the vial has been stored correctly and the vaccine is not visibly contaminated.”12 (The CDC does not say what to do about contamination that may not be “visible.”)

Through the 1970s and 1980s, children in the U.S. generally received eight injections of three types of vaccines—oral polio, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine—in their first eighteen months. The DTP vaccine contained fifty micrograms of thimerosal per shot, translating into one hundred micrograms of mercury exposure by eighteen months. In 1986, after more and more people began suing vaccine manufacturers for serious vaccine injuries primarily related to the DTP vaccine, Congress took the unprecedented step of granting vaccine manufacturers full immunity from lawsuits. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 established a compensation program “as an alternative remedy to judicial action for specified vaccine-related injuries.”13 By making it impossible for vaccine-injured plaintiffs to sue pharmaceutical companies, the result—whether intended or unintended—was to eliminate any financial incentive to make vaccine safety a priority.

By making it impossible for vaccine-injured plaintiffs to sue pharmaceutical companies, the result—whether intended or unintended—was to eliminate any financial incentive to make vaccine safety a priority.

Beginning in 1989, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) began steadily increasing the types and total number of vaccines required for school attendance, including thimerosal-containing vaccines. By 1999, the expanded vaccine schedule called for children to receive nineteen vaccine injections by age two, eleven of which contained thimerosal. Children born in the 1990s could be injected, therefore, with up to 237.5 micrograms of mercury by their second birthday, and as much as 62.5 micrograms at a single doctor’s visit.

In my book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak,14 I quote school nurse Patti White, who noticed, early on, the vaccine-induced mercury overload in young children. In 1999, White testified before Congress about the thimerosal-containing hepatitis B vaccine administered to newborns:

The elementary grades are overwhelmed with children who have symptoms of neurological and/or immune system damage: epilepsy, seizure disorders, various kinds of palsies, autism, mental retardation, learning disabilities, juvenile-onset diabetes, asthma, vision/hearing loss, and a multitude of new conduct/behavior disorders. We [school nurses] have come to believe the hepatitis B vaccine is an assault on a newborn’s developing neurological and immune system. Vaccines are supposed to be making us healthier. However, in twenty-five years of nursing I have never seen so many damaged, sick kids. Something very, very wrong is happening to our children.

School nurses were not the only ones to call attention to the mounting evidence that thimerosal-containing vaccines were having neurotoxic effects. In response to pressure from Congress and the public, the FDA conducted a review in the late 1990s that found that the amount of mercury in the childhood vaccine schedule surpassed some federal safety guidelines. Accordingly, the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a lukewarm statement in 1999 about thimerosal’s potential risks. The statement’s authors called for the phase-out of thimerosal-containing vaccines “as expeditiously as possible,“ while still avowing that “the large risks of not vaccinating children far outweigh the unknown and probably much smaller risk, if any, of cumulative exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines over the first 6 months of life.”15

THE SIMPSONWOOD CABAL

A year later (June 7-8, 2000), the CDC convened a secret scientific review panel of over fifty experts who began backpedaling from the AAP-USPHS pronouncement.16 The group that met at the Simpsonwood Retreat Center near Atlanta included high-ranking CDC and FDA representatives, state and international public health officials, vaccine company representatives and others. At the outset, the meeting’s chair, immunologist Richard Johnston, expressed regret that the group had not met to consider the data sooner, “in advance of…the public health decisions [to phase out thimerosal] that were made last summer.” Further betraying his preconceptions, Johnston stated that there was “no evidence of a problem, only a theoretical concern that young infants’ developing brains were being exposed to an organomercurial.”

The group then heard a presentation by Thomas Verstraeten, a research fellow at CDC who subsequently went on to a decade-long career at GlaxoSmithKline. Verstraeten had been working up a study using data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink (established by the CDC in 1990 to study rare and serious vaccine adverse events), scrutinizing data from roughly one hundred and ten thousand children born between 1992 and 1997 and enrolled at U.S. health maintenance organizations. The study sought to assess the relationship between thimerosal exposure (at one, two, three and six months of age) and neurological damage. After the initial findings showed a possible causal link, Verstraeten reworked the study design and analyses several times prior to Simpsonwood.

Despite these apparent attempts to make the association “go away,” Verstraeten was obligated to present the troublesome finding of linear and statistically significant dose-related relationships between thimerosal exposure and neurodevelopmental disorders to the group assembled at Simpsonwood.

Although differing viewpoints emerged, many of the Simpsonwood attendees were less than persuaded by Verstraeten’s results. Some, such as John Clements of the World Health Organization’s Expanded Program on Immunization, focused more on the public relations implications. Clements stated:

I hear the majority of the consultants say…that they are not convinced there is a causality direct link between Thimerosal and various neurological outcomes. …The research results have to be handled, and even if this committee decides that there is no association…through freedom of information that will be taken by others and will be used in other ways beyond the control of this group. […] My mandate…is to make sure…that 100,000,000 are immunized with DTP, Hepatitis B and if possible Hib, this year, next year and for many years to come, and that will have to be with Thimerosal-containing vaccines unless a miracle occurs and an alternative is found quickly and is tried and found to be safe. […] How will it be presented to a public and a media that is hungry for selecting the information they want to use for whatever means they have in store for them? …I wonder how on earth you are going to handle it from here.

Despite the clear association between thimerosal exposure and neurodevelopmental disorders demonstrated by the Verstraeten study, many of the industry and public health scientists present tried to minimize the implications by voting them away. When polled at the end of the day’s discussion, most of them voted to rate the link between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders as “weak.” In his summary comments as meeting rapporteur, Paul Stehr-Green described Verstraeten’s results as being only weakly indicative of a safety signal—defined as “information on a new or known adverse event that may be caused by a medicine.”17 While acknowledging that the signal “deserved further investigation and…raised some perhaps disquieting possibilities,” Stehr-Green concluded that “there was not anything close to sufficient evidence to support a finding of a causal relationship.”

Pediatrician William Weil observed that “the number of kids getting help in special education is growing nationally and state by state at a rate we have not seen before.”

Attendee William Weil (a pediatrician representing the AAP) noted that even accepting Stehr-Green’s assertion that Verstraeten hadn’t proven a link to neurodevelopmental disorders, it was alarming that he hadn’t disproven it, and there was insufficient evidence, he pointed out, to reject a possible causal relationship. He stated that “the possibility that the associations could be causal has major significance for public and professional acceptance of thimerosal-containing vaccines.” Weil also observed that “the number of kids getting help in special education is growing nationally and state by state at a rate we have not seen before.” Another of his observations was that thimerosal in vaccines represented “repeated acute exposures” and that “the earlier you work with the central nervous system, the more likely you are to run into a sensitive period for one of these [neurodevelopmental] effects.” Finally, Weil pointed out the limitations of epidemiological studies, calling for further indepth animal and developmental neurotoxicity studies and stating: “Some of the really gutsy questions from a person who is very concerned about neurodevelopment cannot be answered out of this.” At the same time, Weil cautioned others not to overly minimize or “play with” the VSD data. Weil was the only reviewer present to rate the association between thimerosal and the neurodevelopmental outcomes as strong, giving it a four on a scale of one to six (where one was weakest).

…CDC moved aggressively to hastily gin up five poorly designed epidemiological studies to disprove the link between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders.

The groupthink on display at Simpsonwood primarily illustrates that most public health and medical experts were itching to exonerate thimerosal, regardless of the science, and continue with business as usual. Following the Simpsonwood meeting, CDC moved aggressively to hastily gin up five poorly designed epidemiological studies18-22 to disprove the link between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders. Written by industry scientists, the published studies focused solely on one injury (autism), and four out of the five were done on foreign populations with minimal exposure to thimerosal. Three of the five studies were published in a compromised journal, Pediatrics, which receives a significant portion of its revenue from vaccine-makers. In 2002, the AAP dutifully “retired” its 1999 joint statement on thimerosal.23 In January 2013, the AAP went even further in several articles in Pediatrics, going on record in favor of exempting thimerosal from an international treaty on the elimination of avoidable mercury exposures.24

The notion that “trace amounts” of a substance as highly toxic as mercury might be benign is exceedingly misleading.

THE FALLACY OF TRACE AMOUNTS

Even when vaccines do not contain thimerosal as a preservative, manufacturers use it in some single-dose and multidose vaccines to impede bacterial growth during the manufacturing process.5 The CDC states that “when thimerosal is used this way, it is removed later in the process” and only “trace amounts” remain (no more than one microgram per dose).25

The notion that “trace amounts” of a substance as highly toxic as mercury might be benign is exceedingly misleading. In a seminal 2014 publication in the prestigious journal Lancet Neurology, toxicology experts Philippe Grandjean and Philip Landrigan observed that the developing human brain is uniquely vulnerable to mercury and other neurotoxins, often “at much lower exposure levels than had previously been thought to be safe.”26

Discussing methylmercury, the Lancet authors also noted that developmental neurotoxicity occurs at far lower exposure levels than “the concentrations that affect adult brain function.” Other investigators have argued that there may be no meaningful safety threshold for methylmercury.27 Given the body of research indicating that ethylmercury is more toxic than methylmercury and that both have comparable mechanisms of toxicity, it stands to reason that warnings about the risks of lower exposure levels would also apply to ethylmercury.

A 2012 Italian study showed that ethylmercury-containing thimerosal diminished the viability of human cells in the lab at a concentration one-fiftieth that of methylmercury.28Although thimerosal’s apologists like to state that ethylmercury disappears from the bloodstream more quickly than methylmercury, this is no evidence that it has cleared the body. Ethylmercury migrates more rapidly to and then lingers in the organs.29

A study that analyzed hair samples from babies’ first haircuts found that children with autism who had received thimerosal-preserved vaccines excreted lower levels of mercury into their hair as infants compared with normal, same-aged children also receiving these vaccines, suggesting that the mercury had lodged in the autistic children’s brains and was hindering neurological development.30

OPEN SEASON ON PREGNANT WOMEN

Thimerosal passes more easily from a mother’s bloodstream through the placenta than does methylmercury.31 Fetal cord blood mercury levels are typically about double the mother’s mercury blood levels.32 This is cause for concern for developing babies in light of the CDC’s 2004 recommendation that all pregnant women in any trimester get flu shots. By 2012–2013, uptake of flu shots during pregnancy had steadily increased to approximately 50 percent.33 Manufacturers still preserve millions of flu shots with massive bolus doses of thimerosal (about thirty-six million flu shots containing twenty-five micrograms of mercury in the 2017-2018 flu season),34 meaning that children born since 2004 have been increasingly likely to be exposed to thimerosal in utero.

A 2017 CDC study reviewing data from the 2010–11 and 2011–2012 flu seasons linked spontaneous abortions to flu vaccines, finding that women vaccinated with the inactivated influenza vaccine had 3.7-fold greater odds of spontaneous abortion within twenty-three days than women not receiving the vaccine.35 For women who received the H1N1 vaccine in both seasons covered in the study, the odds of spontaneous abortion in the month after receiving a flu vaccine were 7.7 times greater. The vast majority of flu vaccines available during the seasons studied were multidose formulations containing twenty-five micrograms of mercury.

THIMEROSAL WORLDWIDE

While the thimerosal debate has carried on in the United States, children around the world have never stopped receiving thimerosal-containing vaccines. The mindset revealed by Simpsonwood attendee John Clements of the WHO—who described a “mandate” to vaccinate one hundred million children “this year, next year and for many years to come” with thimerosal-containing vaccines—has not changed. In fact, the medical community continues to argue that the benefits of keeping thimerosal in vaccines outweigh the risks and that thimerosal is “critical” for low-resource countries that rely on multidose vials as the most affordable option.36 One of the AAP’s former presidents has asserted that, for the good of the global community, the Academy’s pro-thimerosal position is a “no-brainer.”37 The WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety states that “no additional studies of the safety of [thimerosal] in vaccines are warranted.”38

The global health authorities making cavalier and single-minded pronouncements on “life-saving vaccines” should consider the bigger health picture. For example, exposure to toxic metals such as mercury can contribute to malnutrition and, conversely, malnutrition may also increase susceptibility to mercury toxicity.39,40 Mercury is also a potent immunosuppressant, which has implications in low-resource settings where children already face numerous other health challenges and environmental pollutants.41

THE TIME IS NOW

The medical establishment’s defense of thimerosal’s safety has proven highly successful in tamping down deeper investigation into thimerosal and the vaccine industry. Perhaps because major pharmaceutical companies (the makers of vaccines) are among the biggest advertisers in the U.S., the mainstream press has accepted these government orthodoxies and ignored the ample evidence showing that thimerosal is toxic. In fact, the thimerosal saga illustrates the aggressive, knee-jerk rejection by the press, the medical community and allied financial interests of any scientific information suggesting that established medical practices are harming public health. Nevertheless, continuing to wait for more research is not a reasonable public policy option. Thimerosal is dangerous to human health and should immediately be removed from all vaccines (as well as other pharmaceutical and cosmetic products), both in the U.S. and globally.

 

REFERENCES
1. Geier DA, Sykes LK, Geier MR. A review of thimerosal (Merthiolate) and its ethylmercury breakdown product: specific historical considerations regarding safety and effectiveness. J Toxicol Environ Health B 2007;10:575-596.
2. Food and Drug Administration. “Mercury in drug and biologic products.” https://worldmercuryproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/MercuryinDrugsandBiologicsFDAupdated_2009.pdf.
3. World Mercury Project. “Mercury in medicine.” https://worldmercuryproject.org/mercury-facts/mercury-in-medicine/.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Thimerosal in vaccines.” https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/thimerosal/index.html.
5. Food and Drug Administration. “Thimerosal and vaccines.” Last updated Jan. 5, 2018. https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228.
6. Risher JF, Tucker P. Alkyl mercury-induced toxicity: multiple mechanisms of action. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 2017;240:105-149.
7. Al-Tikriti K, Al-Mufti AW. An outbreak of organomercury poisoning among Iraqi farmers. Bull World Health Organ 1976;53(Suppl):15-21.
8. Hilmy MI, Rahim SA, Abbas AH. Normal and lethal mercury levels in human beings. Toxicol 1976;6:155-159.
9. Burbacher TM, Shen DD, Liberato N, Grant KS, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T. Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methymercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. Environ Health Perspect 2005;113(8):1015-1021.
10. Dórea JG. Integrating experimental (in vitro and in vivo) neurotoxicity studies of low-dose thimerosal relevant to vaccines. Neurochem Res 2011;36(6):927-938.
11. Rooney JP. The retention time of inorganic mercury in the brain—a systematic review of the evidence. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2014;274(3):425-435.
12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. General recommendations on immunization: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR 2011;60(2).
13. National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. https://www.congress.gov/bill/99th-congress/house-bill/5546.
14. Kennedy, RF Jr. Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing; 2015.
15. Joint statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). Pediatrics 1999;104(3).
16. Scientific review of Vaccine Safety Datalink information. Simpsonwood Retreat Center, Norcross, GA; June 7-8, 2000. Available at: https://worldmercuryproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/The-Simpsonwood-Documents.pdf.
17. European Medicines Agency. “Signal management.” http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/regulation/general/general_content_000587.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac0580727d1b.
18. Verstraeten T, Davis RL, DeStefano F et al. Safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines: a two-phased study of computerized health maintenance organization databases. Pediatrics 2003;112:1039-1048.
19. Stehr-Green P, Tull P, Stellfeld M, Mortenson PB, Simpson D. Autism and thimerosal-containing vaccines: lack of consistent evidence for an association. Am J Prev Med2003;25:101-106.
20. Hviid A, Stellfeld M, Wohlfahrt J, Melbye M. Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism. JAMA 2003;290:1763-1766.
21. Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB et al. Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data. Pediatrics2003;112:604-606.
22. Andrews N, Miller E, Grant A, Stowe J, Osborne V, Taylor B. Thimerosal exposure in infants and developmental disorders: a retrospective cohort study in the United Kingdom does not support a causal association. Pediatrics 2004;114:584-591.
23. Orenstein WA, Paulson JA, Brady MT, Cooper LZ, Seib K. Global vaccination recommendations and thimerosal. Pediatrics 2013;131(1).
24. Cooper LZ, Katz SL. Ban on thimerosal in draft treaty on mercury: why the AAP’s position in 2012 is so important. Pediatrics 2013;131(1).
25. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Understanding thimerosal, mercury, and vaccine safety.” Last reviewed Feb. 2013. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/patient-ed/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-thimerosal-color-office.pdf.
26. Grandjean P, Landrigan PJ. Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. Lancet Neurol 2014;13: 330-338.
27. Rice DC. The U.S. EPA reference dose for methylmercury: sources of uncertainty. Environ Res 2004;95:406-413.
28. Guzzi G, Pigatto PD, Spadari F, La Porta CA. Effect of thimerosal, methylmercury, and mercuric chloride in Jurkat T Cell Line. Interdiscip Toxicol 2012;5(3):159-161.
29. Harry GJ, Harris MW, Burka LT. Mercury concentrations in brain and kidney following ethylmercury, methylmercury, and Thimerosal administration to neonatal mice. Toxicol Lett 2004;154(3):183-189.
30. Holmes AS, Blaxill MF, Haley BE. Reduced levels of mercury in first baby haircuts of autistic children. Int J Toxicol 2003;22(4):277-285.
31. Leonard A, Jacquet P, Lauwerys RR. Mutagenicity and teratogenicity of mercury compounds. Mutat Res 1983;114(1):1-18.
32. Stern AH, Smith AE. An assessment of the cord blood: maternal blood methylmercury ratio: implications for risk assessment. Environ Health Perspect 2003;111(12):1465-1470.
33. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza vaccination coverage among pregnant women—United States, 2012-13 influenza season. MMWR 2013;62(38):787-792.
34. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal influenza vaccine supply for the U.S. 2017-2018 influenza season. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaxsupply.htm.
35. Donahue JG, Kieke BA, King JP, et al. Association of spontaneous abortion with receipt of inactivated influenza vaccine containing H1N1pdm09 in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Vaccine2017;35(40):5314-5322.
36. Sifferlin A. Experts argue to keep thimerosal in some vaccines. TIME, Dec. 27, 2012.
37. Tavernise S. Vaccine rule is said to hurt health efforts. The New York Times, Dec. 17, 2012.
38. World Health Organization. “Thiomersal in vaccines.” http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/thiomersal/Jun_2012/en/.
39. Anetor GO. Waste dumps in local communities in developing countries and hidden danger to health. Perspect Public Health 2016;136(4):245-251.
40. Chakrabarti SK, Bai C. Effects of protein-deficient nutrition during rat pregnancy and development on developmental hindlimb crossing due to methylmercury intoxication. Arch Toxicol 2000;74(4-5):196-202.
41. Tsai MS, Chen MH, Lin CC, et al. Children’s environmental health based on birth cohort studies of Asia. Sci Total Environ 2017;609:396-409.

This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2018.

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Alternative News

Big News: Costco To Become First Major Retailer To Stop Selling Roundup Herbicide?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    According to the non profit group Moms Across America, Costco is set to stop selling Roundup herbicide.

  • Reflect On:

    Despite the fact that harmful products continue to be approved across North America, the ultimate power to stop their use is us. When we become aware, we stop buying, and their profits drop. We are the ones that use it. Vote with your dollar.

It’s hard to even know where to start with the herbicide Roundup. Despite years of science exposing the inarguable health and environmental consequences of Roundup, federal health regulatory agencies in North America are still approving the herbicide, while multiple other countries have banned it and made its use illegal, citing various health and environmental concerns. Sri Lanka, for example, banned it five years ago due to its link to deadly kidney disease.

Furthermore, the countries approving it are doing so with massive amounts of corruption. These approvals come as a result of corrupt regulatory agencies here in Canada as well as the US, specifically the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The list of examples is very long when it comes to corruption and government connections to corporations like Monsanto, the corporation that created and sells Roundup. This is the only way these products get approved. It’s not science, it’s simply because of lobbying efforts and shady politics.

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage (et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014), article ID 179691)

The latest approvals of glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup, came from within Canada as well as Europe.

EU regulators recently decided to relicense glyphosate, a decision that was based on an assessment plagiarized from industry reports. It’s quite backwards that, for years, health regulators have been relying on the scientific reports from the companies that manufacture these products instead of seeking out independent scientific studies.

A group of MEPs decided to commission an investigation into claims that Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (bFr) copy-and-pasted tracts from Monsanto studies. You can read more about that here.

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In addition, Monsanto colluded with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stifle cancer research that had any connection to their products.

The corruption is never-ending when it comes to the link between corporations and government agencies. In fact, only a few years ago, more than a dozen scientists from within the CDC put out an anonymous public statement detailing the influence corporations have on government policies. They were referred to as the Spider Papers.

Related CE Article: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Explains How Big Pharma Completely Owns Congress

Costco

The corruption that plagues our federal regulatory agencies runs deep, and no matter how obvious the science becomes, like the dangers of Roundup, products that negatively impact our health seem to often get approved anyways. But something special on planet Earth is happening, and that’s massive awareness. We are finally starting to see through the veil that’s been blinding the masses in so many different areas within human life.

Sure, these products may continue to get approved, but we are the ones who are constantly choosing to do so. We don’t have to buy them, and that is why awareness is key.

Zen Honeycutt, the leader of Moms Across America, announced this week that Costco will not be selling the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup Ready.

In a live video update posted on Facebook, Honeycutt stated that she received word that Costco was no longer selling Roundup or glyphosate-based herbicides.

While she’s allegedly not received any official word yet from Costco, she stated that she has talked to various people at the headquarters and regional offices confirming this news. This is huge news because, according to a 2015 article in National Geographic, Roundup is the second-best-selling herbicide in the U.S. for home lawn and garden use. Under a lucrative contract with Monsanto, Scotts Miracle-Gro owns the exclusive right to market Roundup in North America and much of Europe. Scotts distributes about $154 million worth (5.5 percent of the company’s total sales) of Roundup each year to retail giants including Amazon, Home Depot and Walmart.

So let’s hope it’s true.

I asked for an official statement and was told that usually, Costco does not issue press releases, etc discussing which items they have discontinued. Despite not hearing back from the Costco PR department, I decided to announce the information anyway. I told them that the 89,000 people who signed a petition to Costco, Home Depot, and Lowe’s deserved to have an answer. I knew that they would be happy to know that Costco was doing the right thing. – Honeycutt (source)

It’s weird how this is even a debate in some circles. This has been known for a very long time, and we’ve seen similar happenings with DDT in the past.

“Children today are sicker than they were a generation ago. From childhood cancers to autism, birth defects and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise. Our assessment of the latest science leaves little room for doubt; pesticides are one key driver of this sobering trend.” – October 2012 report by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) (source)(source)

Glyphosate is really getting a bad name, as this new information regarding Costco is coming off the heels of some bad press for Monsanto (Bayer) as the case regarding school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit claiming that glyphosate causes cancer to go to trial. There are thousands upon thousands of similar pending cases. Any jury that reviews all of the scientific evidence will not be able to rule in favor of Monsanto, and Johnson’s case was a great example that showed glyphosate caused his cancer.

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, it’s us who decide to use these products. Obviously, we’ve been misled and made to trust our federal regulatory agencies who are supposedly in charge of protecting us from these harmful products. It’s the complete opposite, and what these agencies do is actually quite criminal. This is why conscious media is so important. The same powers that control these corporations have a tight grip on mainstream media as well.

This is why this issue goes largely ignored, and the fact that so many people rely on mainstream media for information about what’s really happening in the world with regards to health, environment, finance, politics, etc. is why a lot of people are still completely unaware of important issues. This is also why governments have started a war on ‘fake news,’ which seems to be a cover for protecting corporate and government interests.

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New Study Links Acetaminophen (Tylenol) To Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity

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Another damning study indicates it is simply time to pull the plug on this outdated drug.

The study just published in JAMA Pediatrics once again indicated that women who take acetaminophen during pregnancy are more likely to have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The researchers also found that prenatal exposure to the medication was associated with a higher risk of having children who exhibit other emotional or behavioral symptoms.

Recent detailed analysis of clinical studies on acetaminophen (Tylenol) have concluded that this popular drug was ineffective for low back pain and provided no significant clinical relief of hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA) pain, while quadrupling the risk for liver damage.

All together, the results from all of these analyses further calls into question whether this drug should still be on the over-the-counter market or at all.

Background Data:

Acetaminophen is the only remaining member of the class of drugs known as “aniline analgesics” that is still on the market, as the rest were discontinued long ago. Acetaminophen only blocks the feelings of pain and reduces fever, it exerts no significant anti-inflammatory or therapeutic action.

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It is well-known that acetaminophen is very hard on the liver. About 40% of regular acetaminophen users show signs of liver damage. Acetaminophen reduces the liver’s store of the important detoxifying aid and antioxidant glutathione. When acetaminophen is combined with alcoholic drinks or other compounds toxic to the liver including other medications, its negative effects on the liver are multiplied. It should definitely not be used in anyone with impaired liver function and given the stress the liver experiences during pregnancy, it appears unwise to use it while carrying a child for both mother and the developing fetus.

Acetaminophen is often the drug of choice in children to relieve fever. However, use for fever in the first year of life is associated with an increase in the incidence of asthma and other allergic symptoms later in childhood. Asthma appears to be another disease process that is influenced greatly by antioxidant mechanisms. Acetaminophen severely depletes glutathione levels not only in the liver, but presumably other tissues as well, and should definitely not be used in people with asthma.

Each year acetaminophen causes over 100,000 calls to poison control centers; 50,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and more than 450 deaths from liver failure. In addition, regular use of acetaminophen is linked to a higher likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, and hearing loss (especially in men under 50 years of age). Acetaminophen use during pregnancy has also been linked to the development of ADHD confirming animal studies showing acetaminophen use in pregnancy can disrupt normal brain development.

New Data:

To more closely assess the associations between maternal prenatal acetaminophen use and behavioral issues in their children, researchers in the United Kingdom collected and analyzed data 7,796 mothers along with their children. The data included acetaminophen use and behavioral assessments of the children were 7 years old. From this data the estimated risk ratios for behavioral problems in children after prenatal exposure to acetaminophen was determined.

The results showed that prenatal acetaminophen use at 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy was associated with a 42% increased risk of the child having conduct problems and hyperactivity symptoms, while maternal acetaminophen use at 32 weeks was also associated with a 29% increased risk of the child having emotional symptoms and a 46% increase in total behavioral difficulties.

Obviously, the researchers concluded “Children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties, and the associations do not appear to be explained by unmeasured behavioral or social factors linked to acetaminophen use.”

Comment:

The results from this study and others are clear. Stay away from acetaminophen. Most people consider acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) as being an extremely safe pain reliever for both children and adults. The reality is that it can be extremely dangerous and causes significant side effects. The FDA has done a poor job alerting the public to the dangers of acetaminophen. In my opinion, it is a drug that serves no real medical purpose in the 21stcentury. Bottom line, it is time to pull it from the market.

As far as alternatives to acetaminophen during pregnancy, I would recommend ginger. Historically, the majority of complaints for which ginger (Zingiber officinale) was used concerned the gastrointestinal system as well as pain and inflammation. Several double-blind studies have shown ginger to yield positive results in a variety of gastrointestinal issues, especially those related to nausea and vomiting including severe morning sickness. In regards to pain and inflammation, dozens of clinical studies have supported this use with positive results in various forms of arthritis, chronic low back pain, muscle pain, and painful menstruation.

Ginger powder, ginger tea or a shot of fresh ginger juice added to any fresh fruit or vegetable juice is certainly a much better option to acetaminophen anytime, but especially during pregnancy.

My overall interpretation of the study is that depletion of glutathione caused by acetaminophen leaves cells, especially brain cells, susceptible to damage. I believe that future studies will not only show more evidence of a link to ADHD, but also autism as well. Glutathione is absolutely critical in protecting cellular function. Any factor that depletes glutathione is obviously going to alter proper development. In addition to acetaminophen, the following factors can deplete glutathione:

To boost your glutathione level it is important to focus on a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. Their rich source of antioxidant phytochemicals and nutrients spare the use of glutathione and help to keep cellular levels high.

For additional related research use the following links: 


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Reference

Stergiakouli E, Thapar A, Smith GD. Association of Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy with Behavioral Problems in Childhood. Evidence Against Confounding. JAMA Pediatrics. Published online August 15, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1775


Dr. Murray is one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine. He has published over 40 books featuring natural approaches to health. His research into the health benefits of proper nutrition is the foundation for a best-selling line of dietary supplements from Natural Factors, where he is Director of Product Development. He is a graduate, former faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. Please Click Here to receive a Free 5 Interview Collection from Dr Murray’s Natural Medicine Summit with the Top Leaders in the Field of Natural Medicine. Sign up for his newsletter and receive a free copy of his book on Stress, Anxiety and Insomnia.

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The Dangers of 5G to Children’s Health

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Mobile and wireless technologies are a ubiquitous feature of modern life. Most U.S. adults own smartphones, a growing proportion are “smartphone-only” Internet users and over a fourth report being online “almost constantly.” As for children, a 2014 survey of high-income nations reported that almost seven in ten children used a mobile phone, and two-thirds of those had a smartphone, usually by age 10. As described by Nielsen, it is now as common to see “a kid with a smartphone in their hand” as it was to see “a kid playing with a yo-yo in the years before the digital age.”

The enthusiasm with which the public has embraced each new mobile and wireless technology—most of which have never undergone any appropriate safety testing or standards development—suggests that consumers rarely stop to consider the health implications of the infrastructure shoring up their ability to browse, stream and download anytime and “on the go.” Consumers are not entirely to blame for their lack of awareness—it is not easy to disentangle the technologies’ health risks in the face of the telecommunications industry’s steady and calculated disinformation efforts and a captured Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that “follows the script of fabulously wealthy, bullying, billion-dollar beneficiaries of wireless.”

…powerful 5g (fifth generation) networks and technology are about to subject everyone, on a continuous basis, to unprecedented forms and amounts of mandatory irradiation – without prior study of the potential health impact or any assurance of safety

Now, however, a global 5G “frenzy” is upon us and is coming into full force. The rollout of “blazing fast” 5G technology will “dramatically increase the number of transmitters sending signals to cellphones and a host of new Internet-enabled devices.” The time is ripe for greater grassroots awareness of the undisclosed tradeoffs between convenience and 5G’s potentially catastrophic health effects. Far from a simple “next-gen” upgrade, powerful 5G (fifth-generation) networks and technology are about to subject everyone, on a continuous basis, to unprecedented forms and amounts of what retired U.S. government physicist Dr. Ronald Powell calls “mandatory irradiation”—without “prior study of the potential health impact” or any assurance of safety. Considering that young people (with their smaller body mass and developing brains) are particularly vulnerable to radiation, the Environmental Health Trust has termed 5G “the next great unknown experiment on our children”—and the entire human population.

Early warnings

In fact, the “giant uncontrolled experiment” on children and adults has already begun, despite an urgent international appeal by tens of thousands of scientists, doctors, environmental organizations and citizens calling for a halt to 5G deployment. In 2018, telecom carriers in the U.S. and Europe began rolling out 5G technology in dozens of cities. Focusing (for now) on “dense urban and high-traffic areas” in the U.S., AT&T began positioning its 5G infrastructure in major cities in eight states, and Verizon started offering 5G home broadband service in “select neighborhoods” in a handful of cities.

…health problems such as insomnia, miscarriage, memory problems and other neurological issues, and there are widespread reports of annihilation of insect and bird populations

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For the most part, health concerns have ranked as a tiny footnote in the midst of the massive hoopla about 5G’s speed and capacity, although trade magazines admit that there may be “some objections” to 5G due to “concerns over potential health risks.” In both Europe and the U.S., however, individuals living and working in proximity to newly installed 5G towers and antennas are telling a different story. Many have immediately started experiencing health problems such as insomnia, miscarriage, memory problems and other neurological issues, and there are widespread reports of annihilation of insect and bird populations.

In response to complaints from fire fighters subjected to 5G antennas, the International Association of Fire Fighters has gone on record as opposing “the use of fire stations as base stations for towers and/or antennas for the conduction of cell phone transmissions until a study with the highest scientific merit and integrity…is conducted and it is proven that such sitings are not hazardous to the health of our members.”

United Nations whistleblower recently drew attention to 5G’s dramatic impact on health in a widely circulated series of comments about 5G’s “seemingly overnight” rollout in Vienna, Austria. Describing 5G as a “silent war,” she commented:

“…Children are the most vulnerable to 5G depredation because of their little bodies. Friends and acquaintances and their children in Vienna are already reporting the classic symptoms of EMR [electromagnetic radiation] poisoning: nosebleeds, headaches, eye pains, chest pains, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, tinnitus, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and cardiac pain. They also report a tight band around the head; pressure on the top of the head; short, stabbing pains around the body; and buzzing internal organs.”

Above and below

One of the novel dangers introduced by 5G technology is its reliance on high-frequency millimeter waves (MMWs), a bountiful and not previously commercialized portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. While 5G’s enthusiasts are quick to promise support for literally billions of devices, there is one catch—the shorter millimeter wavelengths cannot travel as far as the lower frequencies used for earlier generations of mobile technology. Thus, while there were about 300,000 wireless antennas on U.S. cell towers and buildings as of 2016 (a doubling since 2002), 5G will require “exponentially more”—millions of small cell towers every 500 feet “on every street corner.”

…Even in the home environment, 5G technology (will) blast through walls and cribs, making a mockery of the notion that ‘your home is your castle in which you are supposed to be safe

Organizations concerned about the health hazards of wireless radiation note that “Right now, you don’t have to live next to a cell tower….but once they have these [5G] cell antennas everywhere, you won’t be able to [move away].” Unfortunately, the “nowhere to hide” aspects of 5G are even more serious, because ground-based 5G systems will be supplemented by satellite-based systems. In March, 2018, the FCC approved the initial launch of over 4,400 low-Earth-orbit 5G communication satellites, to be followed by thousands more over the next two years—with the eventual result being 11 times more satellites orbiting the Earth than currently. The satellites will send “tightly focused beams of intense microwave radiation at each specific 5G device that is on the Earth,” while each device then sends “a beam of radiation back to the satellite.”

In practical terms, this means that in crowded locations such as airports, individuals’ bodies “will be penetrated by numerous beams of radiation as they walk or as other people walk around them with their 5G smartphones.” But even in the home environment, “5G technology [will] blast through walls and cribs,” making a mockery of “the notion that ‘your home is your castle’ in which you are supposed to be safe.”

More than skin-deep

Scientists, doctors and experts from around the world have issued repeated warnings about 5G’s risks, drawing on published research on MMWs as well as thousands of studies showing the harms caused by other mobile and wireless technologies.

In this context, industry and government claims that 5G technology is safe are completely disingenuous. In fact, the health effects of MMWs are already quite familiar to the U.S. military and defense agencies around the world. The U.S. has at its disposal non-lethal crowd control weapon systems (euphemistically named Active Denial Systems) that use millimeter waves to penetrate the skin of targeted individuals, “instantly producing an intolerable heating sensation that causes them to flee.” In research commissioned by the U.S. Army “to find out why people ran away when the beam touched them,” they discovered that targets “feel like [their] body is on fire.” Researchers also have warned that “the same parts of the human skin that allow us to sweat also respond to 5G radiation much like an antenna that can receive signals.”

Moratorium urgently needed

When the FCC endorsed the transition to 5G in 2016, then-Chairman Tom Wheeler (a former telecom industry lobbyist) vowed “to allow new [5G] technologies and innovations to evolve and flourish without needlessly prescriptive regulations.” Thus, even though 5G represented a radical shift in technology, the FCC proposed no further safety studies, instead continuing to rely on its “outdated, excessively permissive, and thus widely criticized, radiation-exposure guidelines that…are based primarily on a 30-year-old analysis…many years before the emergence of most of the digital wireless technology in use today.” A recent government study by the National Toxicology Program—which determined that cell phone radiation causes cancer—deemed the three-decade-old guidelines “unprotective.”

…children who began using either cordless or mobile phones regularly before age 20 had more than a fourfold increased brain tumour risk.

5G poses risks to all life on the planet—people, animals, insects and plants. However, it is clear that fetuses and children are among the most vulnerable members of the human population. Even prior to 5G, Swedish researchers concluded that “children are indeed more susceptible to the effects of EMF exposure at microwave frequencies” and reported that children who began using “either cordless or mobile phones regularly before age 20” had more than a fourfold increased brain tumor risk. Describing brain cancer as “the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg,’” the researchers also observed that “no other environmental carcinogen has produced evidence of an increased risk in just one decade.”

The UN whistleblower states, “People’s first reaction to the idea that 5G may be an existential threat to all life on Earth is usually disbelief and/or cognitive dissonance. Once they examine the facts, however, their second reaction is often terror. We need to transcend this in order to see 5G as an opportunity to empower ourselves, take responsibility and take action.” Some of the actions that people have taken include signing the International Appeal; learning about the multiple reasons to be concerned about 5G radiation and telling others; talking to legislators about why rushing legislation that streamlines the deployment of 5G small cells is a bad idea (and also raising the awareness of legislators and state utility commissions about the risks of smart meters); and changing their relationship to their devices, including using wired rather than wireless Internet connections (or turning off WiFi routers at night) and adopting other simple steps.

5G promises to create an even “denser soup of electrosmog,” with incalculable health effects. In fact, any sane person who examines the evidence must concur with the authors and over 40,000 signatories of the International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space, who agree that the rush to blanket the planet with 5G “constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law.”

Republishing Guidelines

Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission.

 

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