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Is the aluminium in vaccines a dangerous amount? Is it toxic?

This post addresses common aluminium myths and questions:

MYTH 1: “The total aluminum exposure received from the entire recommended series of childhood vaccines over the first year of life is extremely worrisome”

Actually no, the risk is extremely low: http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/ScienceResearch/ucm284520.htm

MYTH 2: “There haven’t been any studies done to evaluate whether the amount of aluminium that an infant typically receives when completing the full AAP recommended vaccine regimen is actually safe.”

There have been, for example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22001122

Also, the FDA conducted an updated analysis of many studies regarding the safety of aluminum adjuvants and found that the maximum amount of aluminum an infant could be exposed to over the first year of life via vaccines would be 4.225 milligrams (mg). They found that the body burden of aluminum from vaccines AND diet throughout an infant’s first year of life is significantly less than the corresponding safe body burden of aluminum, based on the minimal risk levels established by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mrls/mrllist.asphttp://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/ScienceResearch/ucm284520.htm

MYTH 3: “I just don’t like the sound of aluminium. Hasn’t it been linked to Alzheimers, breast cancer and brain damage? I can control the amount of aluminium I consume, so I want to limit the amount my baby receives from vaccines.”

You can control the amount of aluminium you consume or use in skin products to some extent, but it is everywhere in the environment – the air, soil and water – and is largely unavoidable. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxguides/toxguide-22.pdf

So, avoiding vaccines is really going to do diddly squat towards avoiding aluminium exposure.

Aluminium does not cause Alzheimers or breast cancer. 
http://theconversation.com/does-aluminium-cause-alzheimers-and-breast-cancer-8799

To cause neurological damage, you would have to be exposed to enormous quantities. Vaccines just don’t qualify. The potentially toxic effects of very large quantities of aluminum are encephalopathy, osteomalacia and microcytic anemia. These can become apparent during the treatment of patients suffering from chronic renal failure. So what about in babies who receive vaccinations? No. Aluminium toxicity due to vaccination has never been seen in babies.

Aluminium toxicity is usually only found in patients with renal impairment. Acute aluminium toxicity is extremely rare, but it is possible in people with impaired kidney function. Damaged kidneys and PN – or parenteral (intravenous) nutrition products – are the risk factors for developing acute aluminium toxicity. Despite having those risk factors, most patients with acute kidney injury who require PN do not receive excessive exposure to aluminum from the PN formulation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18728106

So, is acute aluminium toxicity likely in a normal, healthy baby receiving vaccinations? Really, it’s not even possible. What about in a premature baby with kidney dysfunction on parenteral nutrition receiving vaccinations? It’s not very likely, but if you are concerned, you should discuss it with your pediatrician. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/165315-overview

MYTH 4: “Dr Sears says that the amount of aluminium in vaccines is more than injectable aluminium guidelines. He says the FDA advises that premature babies and any patient with impaired kidney function shouldn’t get more than 10 to 25 micrograms of injected aluminum at any one time, yet the total dose of aluminum can vary from 250 micrograms at birth (Hep B) to 295 – 1225 micrograms at 2, 4 and 6 months. He is a medical doctor, and he is worried that these aluminium levels far exceed what may be safe for young babies.”

There is a glaring error with Dr Sears aluminium information that would likely go over most people’s heads. Vaccines are what’s called a biological product. They have a different guideline to aluminium levels in food and a different guideline to aluminium levels in continuous nutritional intravenous products (parenteral nutrition).

Dietary aluminum is in such small quantities that it is not a significant source of concern in persons with normal elimination capacity. Premature babies do not have a normal elimination capacity, so the IV nutritional guideline needs to factor this in.

Dr Sears compares aluminium in intravenous nutrition products for preemie babies to aluminium in intramuscular vaccines. He is comparing the level of aluminium in vaccines to the wrong guideline.

Anti-vax sites are notorious for making this same error eg. they will compare environmental mercury from drinking water (a guideline determined by the EPA) to thimerosal in vaccines (a guideline determined by the FDA – for biological intramuscular injectables)

Here is the correct value:

Chapter 21 of the US Code of Federal Regulations [610.15(a)] limits the amount of aluminum in the recommended individual dose of biological products, including vaccines, to not more than 0.85-1.25 mg per dose.

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=610.15

MYTH 5: “But injected aluminium is different to ingesting it”.

Not really. With aluminium, absorption is extremely low from either route.

Ingestion via the gut IS different to 
Injection IM – into muscle (vaccines) is different to 
Injected IV – intravenously (directly into the bloodstream)

But you also have to consider how often you consume or inject these substances.

Water and food, which we ingest several times a day, every day of our lives will *always* have a lower safety limit simply because we use them so often. It’s really the aluminium from food and water that we need to watch. Even though very little is retained, it can accumulate because we consume them daily, several times a day, over our lifetime. Vaccines are spaced out over months, and years – so the aluminium contained within them do not have much of a chance to accumulate – the amounts are so small to begin with and the majority is excreted.

With the food and drinks you ingest, your gut mucosa filters out a lot of harmful substances and prevents them going into the bloodstream. So most aluminium that you eat, you would excrete before it even enters the bloodstream. That which does enter the bloodstream can also be excreted via the kidneys–> urine and bile. Less than 1% of the aluminium that you eat is absorbed by the body. 
http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/14871578/reload=0%3bjsessionid=qKechXjYOfuu6BUAy8As.0

Even less is retained (in the tissues and skeleton)

Much of the injected aluminium from vaccines enters the bloodstream, but only a very, very small percentage of that will be “dissolved” in the blood – it’s in the form of precipitate and is bound to carrier proteins (transferrin). Approximately 98 % of aluminium in the blood is excreted in the urine, and to a lesser extent bile. The unabsorbed aluminum is excreted in the feces. A diminishingly small amount may be retained. 
We’re talking about a minute fraction of two hundredths of bugger all.

Aluminium given intravenously (via continuous nutritional products for premmie babies – which is the guideline Dr Sears uses – ) has a much higher retention and accumulation value. Of course it does, because it goes straight into the bloodstream and the IV line is continuously there, feeding them all day long. And these tiny preemie babies have underdeveloped kidneys.

When determine the safety of aluminium in vaccines, ingestion of aluminium from food PLUS injection from vaccines is all factored into the formulation and regulation of vaccines when determining safe body burdens.

The amounts in vaccines fall within recommended guidelines when you compare it to the *correct* value.

MYTH 6: “But what about macrophagic myofasciitis? That sounds like aluminium poisoning to me!”

Macrophagic myofasciitis is a very rare condition.  It is muscle fibre damage localised to the muscle of the injection site, likely caused by vaccines containing the adjuvant aluminium hydroxide  It is not due to an acute toxicity in terms of systemic poisoning. The aluminium in macrophagic myofasciitis has not even made it into the bloodstream. http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/aluminium/questions/en/.

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