Most people are unaware that many vaccines are manufactured using Thimerosal, a sterilizer/preservative that is 49.6 percent ethylmercury.

Mercury is the second most toxic element and more poisonous than lead or arsenic. Material Safety Data Sheets for Thimerosal report that the compound causes immune system problems, mental retardation and neurological damage.

A 1999 report showed that during the 1990s, U.S. children were exposed to unsafe levels of ethylmercury via routine childhood vaccinations. In the past 15 years, autism rates rose from 1 child in 10,000 to 1 in 166; in Minnesota, 1 in 126. Now one child in five receives special education services.

As a result, vaccine manufacturers began removing most of the mercury in post-production. However a multi-dose flu vaccine vial still contains 50,000 parts per billion of mercury – an amount 250 times higher than that classified as liquid hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency. An adult dose contains 25 micrograms of ethylmercury, which is safe by EPA standards if one weighs 550 pounds.

A Minnesota bill, SF639, was introduced last session by Sen. Becky Lourey (D-Kerrick) and HF1505 by Rep. Laura Brod (R-New Prague). It ensures that the consumer would always receive the vaccine with the least of amount of mercury, if there is an option between a vaccine containing mercury and a mercury-free vaccine. If no mercury-free version of a vaccine is available, the provider must inform the patient that the vaccine contains mercury.

Nationally a similar bill to limit mercury allowed in vaccines has been introduced in both the U.S. House and the Senate. Rep. Dave Weldon, M.D. (R-Florida) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) are sponsoring HR881, and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) has sponsored S1422.

The bill to limit vaccine mercury has been opposed by some within the Minnesota Department of Health due to concerns that informing the public about mercury content of vaccines might reduce vaccination levels.

The science and politics surrounding Thimerosal was detailed last year in a book, Evidence Of Harm, by former New York Times contributor David Kirby, available in paperback March 1.

Minnesotans who support social policy limiting mercury in vaccines and informing the public about mercury levels in vaccines are encouraged to contact their senator and representative and ask them to support SF 639 and HF 1505, the Elimination of Mercury in Vaccines Act. To find your legislators names and numbers, call (651) 296-2146 or go to www.leg.state.mn.us

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The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) was formed in 1983 to act as watchdog for the public interest in our nation’s Capitol, much as PIRGs have worked to safeguard the public interest in state capitals since 1971. Visit www.uspirg.org

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