Area group aims to raise awareness of mercury risks

Jaiden.net reports: I’m quoted in this article so I suppose I should post it. A free subscription is required to read it online, however, I have provided the article in its entirety below:

Several local families have banded together to purchase three billboards to educate people about dangers they believe are related to thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used for many years in vaccines.

A known neurotoxin, thimerosal has been used as a preservative since the 1930s, and some believes children exposed t. . .

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I’m quoted in this article so I suppose I should post it. A free subscription is required to read it online, however, I have provided the article in its entirety below:

Several local families have banded together to purchase three billboards to educate people about dangers they believe are related to thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used for many years in vaccines.

A known neurotoxin, thimerosal has been used as a preservative since the 1930s, and some believes children exposed to it may suffer language and speech delays, as well as neuro-developmental disorders such as autism.

“We are not anti-vaccine,” said Joy Majzel, spokeswoman for the Holland chapter of Unlocking Autism, a national organization to raise awareness about autism. “We want people to be aware that mercury is being used as a preservative in some vaccines and in most flu shots.”

The billboards, located in Holland, Hudsonville and Grand Rapids, are part of the organization’s national campaign to encourage parents to ask for thimerosal-free flu shots and vaccinations.

Another parent, John Heemstra of Holland, said the connection between mercury and autism, although not certain, is plausible.

“What I am certain of is that mercury is a known neurotoxin, is bioaccumulative (it builds up in your body), and shouldn’t be used as a preservative, especially in things that get injected directly into the body,” said Heemstra, whose 5-year-old son, Jaiden, was diagnosed with autism in 2003. “I’m also certain more research needs to be done.”

Environmental Protection Agency standards allow one microgram of mercury per every 22 pounds of body weight. However, a pediatric flu shot may contain 12.5 micrograms of mercury per vaccination, Majzel said.

Majzel said her 4-year-old daughter, Jenna, was diagnosed with both mercury toxicity and autism.

“It’s indisputable that mercury is a neurotoxin and I feel that we shouldn’t give our kids something we know is toxic,” said Majzel, who taught at West Ottawa High School until 2004, but now stays home to care for Jenna.

Both the Allegan and Ottawa county health departments offer thimerasol-free vaccines, and Laurie Vandezande, a nurse with the Allegan County Health Department, said such vaccines are widely available for all immunizations except the flu shot. She said it is important for parents not to lose sight of the importance of getting children immunized against dangerous childhood diseases.

“It’s really important that children get vaccinated,” said Laurie Vandezande, a nurse with Allegan County Health Department. “The risk from the disease is greater than any risk or perceived risk from the preservative in the vaccination.”

In May 2004, the Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health, concluded there was no proven link between autism and thimerosal in vaccines. However, critics maintain that study is flawed because it relied on European studies in which children received smaller doses of the toxin than American children.

“Many parents are incorrectly told that virtually all mercury has been removed from U.S. childhood vaccinations by their pediatricians. There is one glaring exception — the flu shot,” Majzel said. “Most of the pediatric flu vaccine contains 12.5 micrograms of mercury per dose and two of these are recommended.”

Gary Coller, a Zeeland physician said he felt there is a connection between mercury and the increase in children diagnosed with autism.

“Mercury is considered one of the most toxic elements on earth,” said Coller, who is board certified in clinical metal toxicology. “Recommendations to limit the quantity of fish consumed from the Great Lakes have been made to limit exposure to mercury. Yet, many find it defensible to inject infants, children, pregnant women and elderly adults — those with the most compromised immune systems — with immunization containing mercury.

“There are safer alternatives,” he said.

Coller has been working with legislators to outlaw mercury from vaccinations in Michigan. When California outlawed the use of mercury-based vaccinations the incidents of autism spectrum diagnoses dropped, Coller said.

“Autism is one of the fastest growing diagnoses within the field of special education,” said Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland. “The impact this has had on families and on our educational system is one that should make us at least question why.”

Kuipers has drafted legislation to ban the use of thimerosal in vaccines in Michigan and is planning to introduce it shortly.

If the legislation passed, Michigan would join Missouri, California, Iowa, Illinois, New York, and Delaware who have banned the use of thimerosal as a preservative in vaccines.

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