A newly-released primate study published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), a NIEHS publication, is getting fluffy reviews today. The NIH-funded study, conducted by Dr. Thomas Burbacher, a University of Washington researcher, found that Thimerosal, best known for its use as an ethylmercury-based preservative in infant vaccines and pregnancy shots, is actually more toxic to the brain than methylmercury (MeHg).
MeHg has always been widely hailed as the greater of two evils, pushing ethylmercury out of the limelight as "most toxic." Burbacher's study, however, proves ethylmercury is more damaging because it crosses the blood-brain barrier at a quicker rate than MeHg. Once in the brain, ethylmercury converts to what's called "inorganic" mercury -- the more toxic form -- and is unable to be excreted.
Regardless of the study's grim findings, EHP is presenting their interpretations of the findings in a positive tone, " ... injected Thimerosal reacted differently from methylmercury in that it cleared from the infant [blood] much more quickly."
In the actual study, Burbacher states: "There was a much higher proportion of inorganic Hg [mercury] in the brain of Thimerosal infants than MeHg infants (up to 71% vs. 10%). Absolute inorganic Hg concentrations in the brains of the Thimerosal-exposed infants were approximately twice that of the MeHg infants."
Several organizations that advocate on behalf of children with neurodevelopmental disorders are surprised that the powerful findings are trivialized by those appointed to protect America's health. NAA asks the media to investigate this discrepancy. "To minimize Thimerosal's damage to the brain is concerning to say the least," says Scott Bono, Durham, NC, parent and Board Member of NAA. "These primates are shown to have the most toxic form trapped in their brains -- how is that not the center of focus? To say that ethylmercury clears the blood faster and is therefore less toxic than MeHg is deceptive by omission, attempting to deflect attention from the alarming fact that ethylmercury makes its way to the brain much faster than MeHg and can be trapped there for years."
Burbacher is a long-time researcher of the effects of mercury. Earlier work by Burbacher and colleagues on low-dose MeHg demonstrated that inorganic mercury was the principle cause of tissue changes and toxic effects in primate brains. "This latest study in primates shows what happened to our children," says Jo Pike, Executive Director of NAA. "When people who can help turn a blind-eye to children injured by Thimerosal, it only adds to the heartache our children endure each and every day."