Aluminum and Mercury in Vaccines: A Perfect Storm

World Mercury Project note: When it comes to aluminum and mercury, one plus one does not equal two. The toxicity of mercury alone, and the toxicity of aluminum alone—both of which are concerning enough—are each far below the toxicity that results from exposure to both. Tests of the two metals in combination show that the toxicity levels skyrocket. How long have regulators known this fact?

Aluminum and mercury are two of the most prevalent heavy metals to which humans are exposed, whether via food and food additives, drinking water, occupational and environmental exposures or from medical-dental products such as vaccines and amalgam fillings. These exposures are a particular concern during critical neurodevelopmental stages, especially because both metals are neurotoxic “at doses well below the current reference levels considered to be safe.”

A variety of recent studies have focused on aluminum overload prenatally and perinatally. Nowhere is the overexposure to aluminum more apparent than in childhood vaccines. A two-month-old infant may receive up 1,225 micrograms of aluminum from the adjuvants in vaccines at a single well-baby appointment and a cumulative 4,925 micrograms by 18 months of age—astronomical levels that have never been assessed for safety. A 2018 analysis concluded that the reasoning that has allowed such high levels of aluminum to remain in childhood vaccines is deeply flawed and “place[s] infants at risk of acute, repeated, and possibly chronic exposures of toxic levels of aluminum.”

Given that neurotoxicity is already a major concern for aluminum and mercury when considered on their own, what happens when a developing fetus or infant incurs exposure to both together? Toxicologists have known for a long time that “co-exposure to multiple metals can result in increased neurotoxicity compared to single-metal exposure, in particular during early life.” Retired University of Kentucky chemistry professor Boyd Haley, a mercury expert, noted years ago that toxicity from exposure to multiple metals is not additive but synergistic and that “no one can state what is a ‘safe’ level of…exposure without knowing the concentration of all other factors that may synergistically exacerbate…toxicity.”

Government regulators are well aware of these facts. For decades, the agencies in charge of protecting human health have used “lethal dose” (LD) estimates from studies in mice or rats to characterize the toxicity of a given substance or combination of substances. An LD of “1” (LD1) refers to the dose that would cause death in 1% of subjects (one in 100). A study conducted 40 years ago dramatically illustrated synergistic toxicity, showing that an LD1 dose of mercury administered together with a fraction (0.05%) of the LD1 dose of lead killed not 2% but 100% of the animals.

A new experimental study in human brain cells establishes that co-exposure to mercury and aluminum indeed results in a significant synergism that is far worse than exposure to either substance on its own. The study, carried out by an international trio of researchers from the U.S., Canada and Russia, takes as its starting premise the fact that both mercury and aluminum are capable of provoking a pro-inflammatory response that is damaging to brain cell structure and function. Inflammation and immune system alterations are some of the earliest signs that a neurodegenerative process has been set into motion….

Referring to dual exposure to the two metals as a “perfect storm,” the authors specifically note the ongoing presence of the ethylmercury-based preservative thimerosal in some vaccines and the aluminum adjuvants in other vaccines, which “expose individuals to both aluminum- and mercury-based neurotoxins simultaneously.” This observation deserves emphasis but is not entirely new….


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