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Offered by: Children's Health Defense. Our mission is to end the epidemic of children’s chronic health conditions by working aggressively to eliminate harmful exposures.

What is Thimerosal?

Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines and other medicines. Developed by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in 1928, over the years Thimerosal has been used in a variety of medical products, including topical antiseptics, nasal sprays, eye drops, immune globulin products, and vaccines.

What is the problem with Thimerosal?

Thimerosal is about 50 percent ethyl mercury by weight. Thimerosal exposure has been linked to attention disorders, speech delays, language delays, Tourette Syndrome, misery disorder, seizures, epilepsy, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, narcolepsy, heart disorders, neurological disorders, asthma and allergies. Over 165 peer-reviewed scientific studies show a link between Thimerosal and neurological injuries. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about Thimerosal out there. It’s time to debunk the myths.

My doctor says vaccines don’t contain mercury anymore—that the Thimerosal has been phased out.

Fact: Thimerosal has not been removed from childhood vaccines. In 2001 the Institute of Medicine reviewed the use of thimerosal containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders and recommended that thimerosal be removed from vaccines administered to sensitive populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) chose not to follow the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine.

Is ethyl mercury in Thimerosal is less toxic than the methyl mercury in fish. After all, humans can drink ethyl alcohol even though methyl alcohol is poisonous.?

Fact: The science shows that ethyl mercury is actually more toxic than methyl mercury. While this is a common argument, it is simply untrue. In order to exonerate thimerosal, its defenders sometimes parrot the debunked industry canard that “the ethyl mercury in thimerosal is less persistent in the body and therefore less toxic than methyl mercury in fish.” However, they cannot cite a single published scientific study to support this position. That’s because the science says the opposite. Ethyl mercury is 50 times more toxic than methyl mercury (Guzzi et al, 2012) and twice as persistent in the brain (Burbacher et al, 2005).