The findings were published in Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.
"This scientific paper is ... one of [the] most important pieces of research to come out of the CDC in a decade," pediatrician Paul Thomas said. "It confirms what so many already suspected: that public health officials have been making a terrible mistake in recommending that we expose babies and pregnant women to this neurotoxin. I regret to say that I gave these shots to children. The CDC led us all to believe that it was perfectly safe."
Thimerosal is a vaccine preservative, 49.6 percent mercury by weight, that was first introduced in the 1940s. Yet as much as 30 years ago, many countries started removing the ingredient from vaccines due to mercury's undisputed status as a neurotoxin.
In the United States, thimerosal was not removed from children's vaccines in 2001. Thimerosal is still used in "adult" vaccines, including flu shots that are also given to children. Ethylmercury, the form of mercury found in thimerosal, is also used in ear drops and nasal sprays.
“There is a broad consensus among research scientists that Thimerosal is a dangerous neurotoxin that should be immediately removed from medicines,” environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr wrote in his book Thimerosal – Let the Science Speak.
Despite the fact that the EPA and FDA warn pregnant women to limit their fish consumption in order to avoid mercury exposure, the CDC continues to advise pregnant women to get mercury-containing flu shots. The CDC has explained this contradiction by claiming that the form of mercury found in thimerosal (ethylmercury) is much less toxic and more quickly cleared from the body than the form found in fish (methylmercury).
The new study utterly demolishes those claims.
In a 45-page meta-analysis, the authors review a large body of prior research into both methylmercury and ethylmercury, concluding that the two forms of mercury share many common properties and are both potent neurotoxins of comparable severity to humans.
With particular regards to thimerosal, the researchers found evidence that the preservative is highly toxic even at very low doses, even doing more damage than methylmercury in some studies. In particular, the ethylmercury in thimerosal appears to be more damaging to mitochondria than methylmercury.
The researchers also found that contrary to the CDC's claims, the ethylmercury produced by the metabolism of thimerosal does not leave the body quickly. Instead, it is broken down further into highly neurotoxic metabolites.
The researchers found studies showing a wide variety of effects caused by both ethylmercury and methylmercury, including: DNA damage, impaired DNA synthesis, oxidative stress, creation of free radicals, decrease of glutathione activity (leading to decreased antioxidant activity), damage to the spindle apparatus during cell division, binding to the amino acid cysteine, inhibiting the incorporation of the fatty acid arachidonic acid into cell membranes, overproduction of nitrous oxide, disruption of glutamate and intracellular calcium homeostasis, and disruption of release and binding of neurotransmitters.
Boyd Haley, chairman emeritus of the University of Kentucky Chemistry Department and one of the world's foremost authorities on mercury toxicity, called the study a "nuclear bomb." "It's a momentous rejection of a widely held medical orthodoxy dictating policy changes even more significant than the medical establishment's reversals on thalidomide, calomel tooth powder, x-rays during pregnancy, or lead exposure to children," he said.
"In each of these cases, thousands of children were injured or killed before an entrenched medical establishment was finally willing to abandon treatments that were unquestionably causing great harm."
Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, has long challenged the CDC's claims that ethylmercury is safe. He recently issued a public challenge to thimerosal apologists to drink a liter of any form of mercury in order to prove that the ingredient is safe.