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New results about toxicity of thimerosal


The group compared the systemic disposition and brain distribution of total and inorganic mercury in infant monkeys following thimerosal exposure with infants exposed to MeHg. The initial and terminal half-life of Hg in blood following thimerosal exposure was 2.1 and 8.6 days, which are significantly shorter than the elimination half-life of Hg following methylmercury exposure at 21.5 days. Brain concentrations of total mercury were significantly lower by ~3-fold for the thimerosal-exposed infants when compared to the methylmercury infants and a higher percentage of the total mercury in the brain was in the form of (less toxic) inorganic mercury for the thimerosal-exposed infants (34% vs 7%).
This study indicates that methylmercury is not a suitable reference for risk assessment from exposure to thimerosal derived mercury. Toxicokinetics and developmental toxicity of thimerosal itself have to be studied to afford a meaningful assessment of the effects of thimerosal-containing vaccines.
Until such data is available, the current debate linking the use of thimerosal in vaccines to autism and other developmental disorders (IOM 2001, 2004) will probably continue (see news below).

Related Information:
 Thomas M. Burbacher, Danny D. Shen, Noelle Liberato, Kimberly S. Grant, Elsa Cernichiari, and Thomas Clarkson, Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal, Environ. Health Perspect., 113/8 (2005) 1015-1021. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.7712

Related News:


 Science Daily, May 17 2005: The Age of Autism: Mercury ascending
 Environmental Science & Technology, A-pages, June 1, 2005, 234A, The brain is defenseless against mercury


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