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29 June 2010 @ 05:43 am
Mercury--It's Everywhere You Don't Want it to Be  
Part of my objection to the fixation on thimerosal in vaccines is that it's such a minuscule amount of mercury compared to what's already in our environment and on our plates. I think it's far more likely that if mercury contributes to autism, it is the cumulative effect of all such exposure--beginning in the womb. Science has not proven that mercury is involved in autism, but if it is, consider these other means of exposure:


Air, Water

Broken CFL lighbulbs if not properly handled (learn how.)

Old-style dental fillings (disputed but it may add up with all this other exposure)

Other household sources.

It even used to be in a topical ointment called mercurochrome that my mom used for my scratches and abrasions and I used for my kids.

I also remember one of our thermometers broke and I played with the stuff! I was fascinated with the shiny silver color and the way it felt like a liquid but wasn't quite like other liquids. I ran the blobs through my hands repeatedly. I shudder to think of this now that I know more about mercury's effects!

Here's the article that made me take it far more seriously:

I am what I ate (Salon)


In preliminary results, the study found that 21 percent of potentially child-bearing women exhibited mercury levels that exceed Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

Scientists for the EPA estimate that some 600,000 kids born each year are at risk because of their mothers' mercury levels, since mercury levels in a newborn's umbilical cord were found to be 1.7 times the level in the mother's blood.

The largest manmade source of mercury pollution is the coal-fired power plant, which puts the toxin squarely in the middle of energy politics. Environmental groups tried to make mercury pollution in fish an issue in swing states during the presidential election. MoveOn.org ran an ad criticizing the Bush administration's lax approach to curbing mercury pollution. Meanwhile, the tuna industry seized on recent data from the Centers for Disease Control that suggest overall contamination levels of American women could be lower than previously measured, and proclaimed there is nothing to worry about.

Want to test your hair for mercury accumulation?


Also notable: Autism Diva

Finally, here is one post critiquing the way the vaccination/autism link is promoted:


regarding: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/06/16/thimerosal

(Yes, Salon--one wonders whether they read their earlier article about the many other exposures to mercury--including prenatal!)
Tapatitapati on June 29th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Note: the author of "I am what I ate" reduced her fish consumption dramatically and re-tested three and a half months later. Her new result was in the safe zone, a 16 per cent decrease. Fish consumption was the only lifestyle change she made--eating it only twice in the time between tests.

Younger, smaller fish tend to have less mercury accumulated and are therefore usually safer to eat. Light tuna is preferable to albacore, salmon is safer, sardines are safer.

lunaetstellaelunaetstellae on June 30th, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
Yikes, I remember that bottle of mercurochrome that my mom swabbed all of our cuts and scrapes with. It was like the only item besides bandaids in our medicine cabinet. This is disturbing. However, it was very popular to use back then, and I still don't recall or see anything about high numbers of cases of autism back then. You'd think that would be the case, with everyone using it so much.

And as for fish, I am a late-bloomer when it comes to learning to love fish. I wasn't raised eating fish when I was growing up, except for cheap fishsticks and canned tuna on Fridays. Hence, I hated all fish well into adulthood.
My husband on the other hand has eaten fresh fish all his life and has been instrumental in helping me to discover truly delicious fish. It has taken years, but I can now say there are types of fresh fish I love. To now consider the mercury and other contaminants in seafood saddens me so very much.

Great post. And thanks for making the mercury site clickable :)
(Anonymous) on June 29th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
Got mercury
An excellent tool to gauge how much potential mercury is in the fish you are eating is the free on-line calculator found at www.gotmercury.org
Tapatitapati on June 29th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Got mercury
Oh cool, let's make it clickable:

Got Mercury?

lunaetstellaelunaetstellae on June 30th, 2010 12:25 am (UTC)
Re: Got mercury
Thanks for the post!
Christinekisekileia on June 30th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
There's actually serious question as to whether autism is increasing at all, because even fifteen years ago only the absolute most severe cases were widely recognized. Diagnosis rates are going up due to better recognition of mild to moderate autism spectrum disorders. I think this will become clearer in the next ten years as more adults with mild to moderate ASDs seek diagnosis. Adults will probably still remain significantly underdiagnosed, because many people with ASDs cannot get and keep good enough jobs to be able to afford assessment. However, the number of adults seeking diagnosis is increasing rapidly, and soon that will probably show up in the data if anyone ever bothers to analyze rates of ASDs in adults. (Most research and services for people with ASDs focus on children.)

Also, Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who proposed the link between vaccines and autism, has been completely discredited and has in fact lost his medical license in Britain, IIRC.

Edited at 2010-06-30 03:17 pm (UTC)