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Anti-vaccine people claim that there are two substances used as preservatives that cause – not can cause, not might cause, but absolutely will cause – autism or other developmental issues if given to infants, toddlers and children. Those two substances are mercury and formaldehyde.

Mercury:

Consumption of elemental mercury at a young age has been found to increase the chances of developmental problems and cellular-level brain damage. While it is possible that it can increase the chances of autism, it is not known for sure.

However, elemental mercury is not found in any vaccine in the world. One of the preservatives used in some vaccines is Thiomersal (also known as Thimerosal in the states), which is a mercury-containing compound.

**There is a big difference between elemental mercury and a mercury-containing compound in the same way there is a big difference between elemental sodium, which reacts with water in an explosively violent manner, and salt, which is a sodium-containing compound.**

There is no evidence, even of the anomalous variety, supporting the possibility that Thiomersal could, in the amounts present in vaccines, cause any kind of developmental problems or cellular tissue damage in the brain.

Formaldehyde:

Yes, many vaccines use formaldehyde as a preservative. The amount used, however, is a small fraction of the what is necessary to be even remotely toxic.

Further, formaldehyde is constantly being created naturally in your body as a byproduct of 1 carbon metabolism. Your body is producing formaldehyde as you read this. Really, it is. Because it is constantly being produced in your body, your liver is pretty damned good at cleaning it out, too. It metabolizes out of your system at a rate of about 22mg per minute. For comparison, the body removes alcohol from your system at a rate of about 15ml per hour, which equates to about 190mg per minute. One drink of alcohol, be it a can/bottle of beer, a shot or a glass of wine, contains around half an ounce, or about 11.4 grams, of alcohol, hence it taking about an hour per drink to work itself out of your system.

Meanwhile, the highest formaldehyde content of any vaccine currently on the market is around 90mg. If you, as a grown adult, were to receive every vaccine on the market in a 5 minute window, not only would it not be enough formaldehyde to be even remotely harmful to you, but it would all be cleaned out of your system in less than 2 hours.

And then there’s the fact that you can request preservative-free vaccines for yourself or your child. Allergies to the preservatives used are common enough that all vaccines are required to have a preservative-free version available upon request in basically every nation that has an FDA counterpart. Are there shortages of these? It happens. Will it take a little longer to get the preservative-free versions? It can if demand has been high for them recently. Can you inform your doctor ahead of time so that they’ll have it when it’s time for vaccination? Definitely.

This is the point where it becomes unquestionably obvious that people who refuse to vaccinate their child/children because of these non-existent “risks” are really just ignorant fools who are endangering our children for no good reason. 

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