Nov 012010
 
needle

One of the common arguments the anti-vaccine advocates use is the “toxins in vaccines” argument. They say that because some substance in vaccines is known to be toxic, such as aluminum, then its mere presence makes vaccines dangerous. What they fail to mention in almost every case however is how much of said substance is in vaccines, and at what levels is this substance toxic.

Water can be toxic to a human in high enough quantities; it’s called drowning. Oxygen can be poisonous; it’s called oxygen poisoning. The list of examples goes on and on but the take home point is this: any substance can be toxic in the right dose; and most substances will not be toxic at low enough levels. As they say the dose makes the poison. The same applies to aluminum.

So, how much aluminum is there in vaccines anyway, and is that level dangerous for babies? To answer that, the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has set up a short, concise, informative PDF that is available to all, for free, titled “Aluminum in Vaccines: What you should know“. And unlike those in the anti-vaccine camp, the Vaccine Education Center provides all their sources in the PDF itself, for anyone who wants to verify the accuracy of their report.

What they report should satisfy everyone’s curiosity.

During the first 6 months of life, infants could receive about 4 milligrams of aluminum from vaccines. That’s not very much: a milligram is one-thousandth of a gram and a gram is the weight of one-fifth of a teaspoon of water. During the same period, babies will also receive about 10 milligrams of aluminum in breast milk, about 40 milligrams in infant formula, or about 120 milligrams in soy-based formula.

So to put this in perspective: a baby will get 2.5 times the amount of aluminum from breast milk, 10 times the aluminum from infant formula, and 30 times the aluminum from soy-based formula. I know of no babies that are raised without either breast milk or formula, including the babies of each person in the anti-vaccine camp, and any baby who wasn’t vaccinated due to parent’s fear of aluminum toxicity in vaccines.

It appears to me that the anti-vaccine crowd should switch its focus from “greening” vaccines to “greening” baby formula. I hear Big Formula makes a lot of money too out of its product….!

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  35 Responses to “Vaccine Misconception of the day – Aluminum in vaccines”

  1. Or Big Boob. That would be fun. (Like they need another reason to attack formula.)

  2. Very salient point. The deer in the headlights look you get from anti-vaccine pro-disease nutters when you refute this canard is almost priceless.

    • okay, because ingesting and injecting are exactly the same thing. Educate yourself

      • Ingesting aluminum gets it into the blood stream faster. Plus there is much more in the food than in any vaccine (since plants are grown in soil, which is composed of minerals with lots of aluminum). When you inject it, it takes it much longer, giving time for the immune system to react.

        Since soil is made up of minerals that have a substantial amount of aluminum, you get it “injected” when you scrape a knee. Or if you scrape your arm on a chain link fence.

  3. There are two relevant comments to the article. One is that in general there are no lower safety limits for injected toxins.
    The other point is that one learns at medical, nursing and pharmacy college that substances behave very differently when ingested or injected. This is an important and relevant fact.
    It is therefore futile to compare amounts of aluminium in baby formula with amounts injected in vaccines.
    When injected, aluminium affects immune response. That is the reason it is present in vaccines. However, it may affect immune response drastically so that in some cases this results in autoimmune illnesses.

    • Well of course there are no lower safety limits for injected toxins; toxins is a very general label after all. Where is the evidence for toxicity of the aluminum in vaccines, in the amounts that infants are exposed to? Without it on what basis do you refer to it as a “toxin” in the lower concentrations on vaccines, but not a toxin on the much higher concentrations on milk/formula? Simply because one is going through the stomach and the other through a needle? Let us not forget vaccines are injected in muscle tissue, not in the blood veins directly, so on what basis do you differentiate?

      What exactly is the rate of retention of aluminum from injections as compared to the rate of retention from food/air/skin contact sources? That would probably make the comparison more useful, but you seem to very quickly dismiss these other ways of being exposed to aluminum. What is your basis for doing that?

      How does aluminum injected via vaccines, behave differently from aluminum from food/air/skin contact? And why should we assume that differently automatically means “for the worse” in this scenario. Is there any evidence that aluminum injected via a needle in muscle tissue is worse for the human body? If so, please point to it.

      I cannot address you last point about the autoimmune illnesses until you link to your source; it doesn’t sound very far fetched that there may be rare side effects, but until you point to your evidence I cannot accept your statement at face value.

  4. Oh puhleese. This crowd who fears “toxins” are hilarious. Seriously, count the tattoos on them, and realise that they’re getting hyped up for the hell of it. Do you know what’s in tattoo ink? Me neither.

  5. The article glibly ignores the difference between ingesting substances and injecting them. Only a tiny fraction of the aluminium ingested from formula or breast milk will actually be absorbed. Very naughty, and completely destroys the credibility of the author. As for the use of the word “toxin”, it is established that both mercury and aluminium are neurotoxins. Any exposure to them is dangerous, it is merely a question of how much damage is either noticeable or acceptable, much like radiation exposure. This sort of article, spouting propaganda and slagging off the opposing theories, merely brings science into disrepute.

  6. …and Maxwell conveniently forgets that chemicals ingested are normally more hepatotoxic than those injected, since the intestines have the portal vein which runs right to the liver with all the toxins you eat and drink.

  7. You guys are so brilliant. So smart. Thank God for your astute minds. Check under title : “Over-Vaccinated Animals, Autism and SIDS” it is an interesting article that talks about vaccines linked to delayed vaccine associated anaphylatic shock in humans and animals.

    • And where is that title? I did not find it listed on PubMed. Could you please provide the URL? And remember it should be of an actual science journal, not a random biased website (I tried on and the title sent me to some badly done religious site when I tried to read the article!).

      And why would we believe it more than:
      Vaccine. 2007 Jun 21;25(26):4875-9. Epub 2007 Mar 16.
      Do immunisations reduce the risk for SIDS? A meta-analysis.

      Which concludes: “Immunisations are associated with a halving of the risk of SIDS.”

  8. In 1927 Dr. Victor Vaughn, a toxicologist with the University of Michigan, testified before the Federal Trade Commission that “all salts of aluminum are poisonous when injected subcutaneously or intravenously.”

    Approximately 95% of an aluminum load becomes bound to transferrin and albumin intravascularly and is then eliminated renally. In healthy subjects, only 0.3% of orally administered aluminum is absorbed via the GI tract and the kidneys effectively eliminate aluminum from the human body.It is only when the GI barrier is bypassed, such as intravenous infusion or in the presence of advanced renal dysfunction, that aluminum has the potential to accumulate.

    As an example, with intravenously infused aluminum, 40% is retained in adults and up to 75% is retained in neonates.4

    Source:
    4.Brown RO, Morgan LM, Bhattacharya SK, Johnson PL, Minard G, Dickerson RN. Potential aluminum exposure from parenteral nutrition in patients with acute kidney injury. Ann Pharmacother. Oct 2008;42(10):1410-5. [Medline].

    FURTHER READING: If a significant load exceeds the body’s excretory capacity, the excess is deposited in various tissues, including bone, brain, liver, heart, spleen, and muscle. This accumulation causes morbidity and mortality through various mechanisms.

    • Which vaccines are given intravenously? And what is the quantity of a vaccine versus intravenous feeding fluid? Are they equivalent?

      Try reading the above blog article again, where it says:

      What they fail to mention in almost every case however is how much of said substance is in vaccines, and at what levels is this substance toxic.

      And as far as subcutaneously goes for your 1927 citation: Have you never known of a child who skinned their knees on the ground? Aluminum is the most common metal on the earth’s crusts, and a large component of the minerals (feldspars) that are in soil.

      • “Which vaccines are given intravenously?”

        None, but when have facts interfered with an antivax rant. An irrelevant reference from 1927 is actually better evidence than is usually provided.

  9. This is a bullshit article , anyone who thinks vaccines could possibly be safe is outta there minds wake the fuck up people , stop listening to the government they do
    Not have your child’s best interest at heart, when big $$$$ is involved , there

    • So, do please tell us exactly how much worse the DTaP is compared to diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis? And then tell us exactly how much cheaper it is to treat for those diseases than to prevent them.

      Please include the title, journal, and dates of the PubMed indexed papers that support your statements. For instance:

      Vaccine. 2012 Jan 5;30(2):247-53.
      Lack of association between childhood immunizations and encephalitis in California, 1998-2008.

      Pediatrics Vol. 126 No. 2 August 1, 2010 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-1496)
      Lack of Association Between Acellular Pertussis Vaccine and Seizures in Early Childhood

      Pediatrics. 2010 Jun;125(6):1134-41.
      On-time vaccine receipt in the first year does not adversely affect neuropsychological outcomes.

      Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010 May;29(5):397-400.
      Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: a case-control study.

      Pediatrics. 2009 Jun;123(6):1446-51.
      Parental refusal of pertussis vaccination is associated with an increased risk of pertussis infection in children.

      Pediatrics, February 2009, Vol. 123(2):475-82
      Neuropsychological Performance 10 years after Immunization in Infancy with Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines

      Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Dec 15;168(12):1389-96. Epub 2008 Oct 15.
      Geographic clustering of nonmedical exemptions to school immunization requirements and associations with geographic clustering of pertussis.

      Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159:1136-1144.
      Economic Evaluation of the 7-Vaccine Routine Childhood Immunization Schedule in the United States, 2001

  10. You are right! They should take all of that garbage out of infant formula, like the no dissolvable sugars and things!

  11. First of all, only a small fraction of dietary aluminum is absorbed into the bloodstream, whereas by injection its nearly all. Secondly, any aluminum absorbed through vaccines will be *in addition to* background sources. You make it sound like either/or – no, the body will have to process the huge bolus dose from the vaccines, AND the long-term exposure from environment & food. Third, oxygen and water have nutritional value to the body at normal doses, whereas aluminum has no known positive function at any dose.

    • Citation needed.

    • Actually Bryan, aluminum is found in numerous foods and beverages, including fruits and vegetables, beer and wine, seasonings, flour, cereals, nuts, dairy products, baby formulas, and honey. Typical adults ingest 7 to 9 milligrams of aluminum per day.aluminum. Thank God for aluminum because it’s really useful in antacids – Because both breast milk and infant formula contain aluminum, all babies have small quantities of aluminum in their bloodstreams all the time. The amount is very small: about 5 nanograms (billionths of a gram) per milliliter of blood (about one-fifth of a teaspoon). Indeed, the quantity of aluminum in vaccines is so small that even after an injection of vaccines, the amount of aluminum in a baby’s blood does not detectably change. check out the Vaccine Education Center, which, btw, does not take $ from Big Pharm. :-) http://www.chop.edu/service/vaccine-education-center/order-educational-materials/

  12. As much as I hate paying attention to conspiranoics, the linked Hospital of Philadelphia’s PDF does say this: “Though all of the aluminum present in vaccines enters the bloodstream, less than 1 percent of aluminum present in food is absorbed through the intestines into the blood.”

    Which turns the given aluminium quantities in foodstuffs (max 120 mg in soy-based formula, with turns to 1.2 mg in the bloodstream) small compared to the quantity in vaccines (4 mg directly in bloodstream).

    Which turns the possibly well-meaning inclusion of those foodstuff numbers somewhat disingenuous-looking. And I say somewhat because after all the information to get the final numbers is available right there in the same page, so I still find more believable this kind of information than the antivaccine nutters’ ramblings.

    Any thoughts?

    • You eat more often than you get vaccines, plus not every vaccine contains an aluminum adjuvant. So it is still apples to oranges, and does not overturn the decades of research that shows they are safe.

      Now, if you really want to do a valid comparison, just eat only on a day you are scheduled to get a vaccine. See how long you last.

      • Seems to me that you didn’t even read the Hospital of Philadelphia’s PDF.

        It says:
        “During the first 6 months of life, infants could receive about 4 milligrams of aluminum from vaccines. [...] During the same period, babies will also receive [...] about 120 milligrams in soy-based formula.”

        So, no need to consider how often you eat: the numbers are for THE FIRST 6 MONTHS OF LIFE, for both food and vaccines.

        And anyway, if you don’t like the comparison, talk to the Hospital so they fix the PDF, huh?

        • You still have to access relative risk. Even if the consumption of aluminum per day from food was zero, the exposure to microbes is not. So, what exactly is more deadly for a an infant: DTaP or pertussis? Provide detailed scientific documentation.

          • I agree with aSSessing the risks.

            What I don’t understand is your defensively knee-jerk reaction, which does nothing to negate the fact that, according to that PDF, exposure to aluminium in vaccines in 4x that from food during the 6 firsts months of life.

            (And here I thought that only the nutters had that kind of “HA-I-DON’T-HEAR-YOU” reactions… :/ )

          • (anti-vaccine nutters, I mean. But maybe there is also a pro-vaccine nutters camp? :P)

          • Possibly because the pdf was not clear whether or not the 120 mgs was the 1% or not. It was not a scientific paper, and there is no way to know how did they did the numbers.

            Especially since this particular CDC pdf has a daily ingestion between, and yet the vaccine being 0.85 mg/dose of vaccine. That is between 730 to 1640 mg for the six months, and even 1% of that is less than 4.

          • How did those numbers disappear: “daily ingestion between 4 and 9 mg. And by way, from my experience with breastfeeding three babies: they eat lots!

  13. And just to be clear: I only expected something like “yes, you are right, the PDF says so” or “no, you understood wrongly that PDF because such and such”.

    Even if my understanding is OK, I still would prefer the aluminium undefined risk than the sickness definite risk. I am no doctor, anyway. Nor even know if these problems apply in Europe, where I am.

  14. Chris, the link you gave to a “CDC pdf” must be wrong because it goes to the same Hospital of Philadelphia’s PDF. Could you link it again?

    And there is a problem with your numbers: 1% or 730 and 1640 is respectively 7.30 and 16.40, which of course are more than 4.

    • Oops, sorry. It is the same silly “not enough coffee” that caused numbers to disappear:
      http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=1076&tid=34#bookmark03

      And I even screwed up by only multiplying the 182.5 days(half a year) by “4″ instead of “7″. And it is “1% of 730″, which is 7.3, though in reality the number should be 7 * 182.5 = 1277 (truncating to a whole number). And 1% of that is 12.8 mg, and even 12 mg is more than 4mg.

      I also had a couple of thoughts today:

      So where does the aluminum in breast milk come from? Well it is the daily 7-9mg the adult mother consumes per day.

      Also, babies grow lots during their first six months (well, I hope that is the correct link). My experience is that a 3kg baby is pretty much closer to 7 to 8 kg by six months (my middle child is a tall thin man, but he was quite a chubby baby despite being only a bit over 3kg at birth). That takes lots of breast milk, and neither of my younger children would eat solid food until at least six months (I defied the doctor on that, and yet both of them are tall, thin and healthy thriving adult college students).

      My mistake of multiplying “4″ by the days of half a year to get 730, and with 1% of that be 7 (still truncating), is still more than 4 mg. So if we figure babies eat half that of adults, it is still more aluminum than by vaccines.

      Some six months old can actually crawl (like my daughter), and will put anything in their mouths. There is aluminum in dirt! Oh, and on things kids get injured on like chain link fences. Okay, not so much for babies, though I did have to sweep a beetle out of a newly crawling baby boy’s mouth (who knows what else he ate?).

      And in Europe squalene is used as an adjuvant, along with aluminum. Of course there has been scaremongering with squalene. Which is even more silly, since the only way to get rid of squalene from a kid’s body is to remove their liver. Squalene is created by the liver to help with essential functions, including cholesterol, and is even sold in health food stores.

      The “aluminum” gambit is a classic “moving of the goal posts” by certain factions who do not like science and modern medicine. They could no longer complain about thimerosal in the developed countries, so someone read down the list of ingredients and found another metal, aluminum (my favorite gambit is calling it another “heavy” metal). Not having any real evidence, they start making some up. Often the “researcher” who is finding fault with aluminum adjuvants is working outside their area of expertise, and is not being taken seriously.

  15. It’s not in the interest of the pharmaceuticals to clean up their vaccines, as if they give us autoimmune diseases then they make money from us being on drugs for life. They have a huge conflict of interest, so it will take outside pressure to make vaccines safe.

    For the time-being parents have no choice but to educate themselves and assess the risk/benefit of each of the vaccines in the schedule, as the current medical system is not working.

    The scaled down vaccine schedules in Iceland, Japan, Singapore and Sweden look far safer and bring better mortality rates than the heavy US vaccine schedule which brings the worst infant mortality rate in the first world.

    Sources/Studies

    Self-Organized Criticality Theory of Autoimmunity

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0008382

    Conclusions/Significance

    “Systemic autoimmunity appears to be the inevitable consequence of over-stimulating the host’s immune ‘system’ by repeated immunization with antigen, to the levels that surpass system’s self-organized criticality.”

    Assessing the risks against the benefits of each vaccine

    http://www.smartvax.com/

    Infant mortality rates regressed against number of vaccine doses routinely given: Is there a biochemical or synergistic toxicity?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170075/

    More Vaccines Equal More Infant Deaths: Study Documents

    http://gaia-health.com/gaia-blog/2012-07-14/more-vaccines-equal-more-infant-deaths-study-documents/

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