Even though the Wakefield study (the only study to draw a connection between vaccines and autism) has been proven to be a fraud and there are 41 studies proving vaccines do not cause autism, many still believe vaccines cause neurological harm. I read on one site where a mother of a premature baby still didn’t believe in vaccination because of “heavy metal poisoning. I see that term a lot, “heavy metal poisoning”, so I thought it worthy of some investigation.
According to the IUPAC (The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) the term “heavy metals” is meaningless. There is actually no standard definition of “heavy metals”. While it is often a term used to describe metals and semimetals (metalloids – a substance that has the physical appearance and properties of metal but in a lab acts nothing like metal) that have been associated with potentially hazardous toxicity to humans or the environment, the term is used inconsistently in scientific and government literature, and of course by the public.
Various inorganic chemists have tried to classify metals as “heavy metals” based on density, atomic mass, atomic number, and chemical properties, and none have found definitions suitable for the scientific community (note that none of the proposed definitions mention anything about toxicity). The IUPAC says that the term “heavy metal” is meaningless and should be abandoned. So, by default “heavy metal” poisoning is impossible.
Some vaccines do contain aluminum: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, haemophilus, HPV, and pneumococcus. Aluminum is an adjuvant (helps to stimulate the immune response). Aluminum is found in almost every animal and plant (it is in the soil, so is absorbed into plants). There is less aluminum in all the vaccines given in the first 6 months of life (4 mg) than in the breast milk that same baby would drink in those same 6 months (10 mg). To put it in perspective, one tsp. of Maalox has 200 mg aluminum. Aluminum toxicity can occur, but it takes much higher doses than a tsp. of Maalox. Thimerosal - a mercury-containing preservative is the only other metal in some adult vaccines, but no children’s vaccines (they are packaged differently, so it is easy to tell, thimerosal vaccines are all single dose).
Some scientists have proposed a new definition of metals based on their biochemical basis for toxicity (using something called Lewis acid properties). Basically, this means metals that are most likely to damage cell membranes (which makes a lot of sense to me!). There are three groupings in this new system: Class A, Class B, and Borderline or Intermediate. Class A metals are are not likely to harm cell membranes (Class B and Borderline are likely to cause harmful membrane structural changes). Aluminum is a Class A metal.
And for those who use Wikipedia? The page on “Heavy metal” (chemistry) contains multiple inaccuracies compared to what the IUPAC proposes, so I’ll have to go with the international body made up of people with PhDs in inorganic chemistry as oppossed to some unknown author with unknown interests/bias. Wiki does say that the IUPAC calls the term a “misinterpretation,” but still goes on to list many types of “heavy metals” and how they are toxic. If I were writing the Wikipedia page, it would look something like this:
Heavy metal (chemistry) – an older term first used as a non-chemical definition before 1936 to describe guns or shots of great size or great ability. Since 1936 scientists have attempted to categorize metals as “heavy” based on density, atomic weight, atomic number, and other chemical properties but to no avail. The term “heavy metal” has never been defined by any authoritative chemistry body such as the IUPAC and no relationship can be found between density (specific gravity) and any of the physiochemical concepts that have been used to define “heavy metals” and the toxicity or ecotoxicity attributed to “heavy metals.”
Can vaccines cause “heavy metal” poisoning? As there is no such thing as a “heavy metal,” the answer is a resounding no.
Can vaccines cause aluminum toxicity? No, the doses are orders of magnitude too low.
Is aluminum in low concentrations safe? Yes, it is unlikely to damage cell membranes and every plant we eat contains it.
Any website that uses the term “heavy metal” toxicity or poisoning is guilty of shoddy research, woo-mongering, or both.