But…it’s toxic!

24 Nov

Warning, non autism subject. Rather, the subject is misinformation by pseudo-autism bloggers.

“It’s toxic”. We hear that a lot about vaccine ingredients, especially thimerosal. But, dose makes the poison. As if I need to say that, yet again. But, once again there is a campaign to scare people about vaccines, using mercury as the hammer. Frankly, I’d be glad to see thimerosal go away just to see what hammer pops up next. (My money is on a resurgence of “too many, too soon”)

In addition to the SafeMinds PSA that they are trying to put into movie theaters, a smaller effort is ongoing (as it always is) at the Age of Autism blog. They recently posted the MSDS for thimerosal. They also gave a screenshot. And, they are tweeting the message.

(Note, I had to add that as I feel a kinship with “female bloggers” as of late)

What can we tell from this? Well, thimerosal has a health safety rating of 2 (that’s the number in the . That’s a “moderate” hazard. If you check closer, you will see that there is a listing for toxicity. They give LD50 numbers. That’s the amount of the substance which given in a short period of time will kill about 1/2 of the test animals. For Thimerosal, the LD50 is 91 mg/kg [Mouse]. Give 91mg thimerosal to a group of 1Kg mice, and half will die.

But, hey, as long as we are looking at MSDS sheets, let’s check the sheet for, DMSA. DMSA, or meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid, is a chelating agent commonly used amongst those who “treat” autistic children as if they are heavy metal poisoned. The MSDS for DMSA shows, just like thimerosal, a 2 rating for health hazard. A moderate hazard. Again, for emphasis, the same rating as thimerosal. The LD50 is higher, acute: 5011 mg/kg [Mouse]. In other words, DMSA will kill mice (it is toxic) but it takes a larger amount than thimerosal.

But, how much DMSA is a child under this treatment exposed to? From one website, I found:

In one popular chelation protocol for children with autism, the dosage of DMSA is calculated based on the child’s weight, at 1/8 to 1/2 mg per pound. It is administered in divided doses, every four hours. This dose is given every day for three days, followed by a rest period of four days. Many children have remained on this regimen for as long as two to three years, with continued improvement over the course of therapy.

VRP now offers DMSA in a 25 mg dosage intended for children. However, it is always a good idea to work with a chelation doctor when treating children, and that is what we recommend.

OK, for simplicity sake, imagine the 1Kg mouse again. If you give that mouse a flu shot with 25 micrograms of thimerosal, you have given him 0.025mg/92mg or 0.03% of the LD50.

What about DMSA? Give that 1Kg mouse 25mg of DMSA and you have exposed it to 25mg/5011mg, or 0.5% of the LD50.

Both DMSA and thimerosal are well under the LD50 limit, but, by this measure, the 25mg of DMSA is over 15 times more toxic than the 25micrograms of thimerosal.

The thing about vaccines is that kids don’t get them every day. You can’t say the same thing about chelators. Kids have been on chelation “treatments” for weeks, months, even years.

If one wants to argue that “dose does not make the poison”, why are those same people supporting exposing disabled children to a chronic exposure of a toxic substance (DMSA)?

Perhaps I could tweet, “Female blogger ignores the fact that DMSA is poison. Perhaps send her the data sheet?”

15 Responses to “But…it’s toxic!”

  1. Tam November 24, 2010 at 07:00 #

    Good point, and nice illustration, but your ruined it just a bit by giving a 1kg mouse a full 25 mg dose. The formula was 1/8-1/2 mg/lb, so that 1kg (2.2lb) mouse (btw, that’s a crazy big mouse) would get .275-1.1 mg… but then the math doesn’t come out so well for your point.

    Your point is still made about chronic exposure though.

  2. Chris November 24, 2010 at 07:03 #

    In the world where we can Google anything, I looked used with the search words “brassica toxity” and actually got a hit!

    Okay, kids: broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are now officially toxic! You now have evidence to refuse to eat them when they are served on Thanksgiving. But remember that means no more mustard spread on hotdogs!

  3. Tam November 24, 2010 at 07:06 #

    It’s funny, Chris, I’m allergic to all of those foods when they’re cooked (can eat them raw lol).

    I need to make an amendment to my earlier post. It didn’t occur to me that mice wouldn’t take a full flu vaccine either, so I guess it makes sense you’re comparing a full kids’ dose of the chelation stuff if you’re comparing a full vaccine shot. It’d probably be less confusing if you did the math with a 40 lb kid instead, though.

  4. Liz Ditz November 24, 2010 at 09:02 #

    Uh, Sully, a word missing?

    that’s the number in the .

    In the what?

  5. Liz Ditz November 24, 2010 at 09:26 #

    Nice work, Sullivan!

    Tam: I dislike the brassicas, except for the cabbage family, both cooked and raw. My dislike has more to do with texture than anything else. Brussels sprouts aren’t high on the list, either.

    Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) which is an amaranth, is tricky in terms of well, causing digestive distress. I won’t say I’m “allergic” but I will say it has the power to disrupt my digestion in a lamentable way. Cooked spinach, as long as it is accompanied by a milk product (like creamed spinach or palak paneer or all those “Florentine” menu items) is ok — in moderation.

    Raw spinach, even baby spinach, in quantities over a handful…well, let’s just say it doesn’t agree with me. I’ve been caught out a couple of times by a “spring salad mix” which was about 60% baby spinach. It’s hard to tell baby spinach from some of the other young greens.

  6. Brian Deer November 24, 2010 at 12:03 #

    Give it a rest Bonnie. You can’t possibly know all this and not be married to Paul Offit. I heard him say “meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid” once.

  7. Joseph November 24, 2010 at 14:34 #

    Interesting find. So bottom line for anti-vaxers to understand: Every dose of DMSA is about as toxic as 15 thimerosal-containing vaccines given at once.

  8. Prometheus November 24, 2010 at 23:51 #

    Tam complains:

    “Good point, and nice illustration, but your ruined it just a bit by giving a 1kg mouse a full 25 mg dose.”

    Didn’t ruin it for me – he gave the same (rather large) mouse a full influenza vaccine, as well.

    BTW, Sullivan, are those 1 kg mice only found in Monstropolis? I’d certainly feel better if that were so.

    If it makes Tam feel any better, we can compare the proportion of LD50 in a 20 kg child:

    25 mcg thimerosal = 1.25 mcg/kg = 0.0014% of LD50
    25 mg DMSA = 1.25 mg/kg = 0.025% of the LD50

    Now, let’s play this game the way they do on AoA and look at the dosing intervals. The influenza vaccine is given once a year (at most), whereas – by the “protocol” listed above – DMSA is given daily for three days in a week.

    If we take one week, then, our 20 kg child would get three (3) days of DMSA at (picking the middle of the recommended dose range) 0.5 mg/kg/day (note change from mg/lb to more modern mg/kg).

    A little calculator magic and we have:

    DMSA: 1.5 mg/kg/week = 0.03% of LD50 (yes, I know that the LD50 isn’t for cumulative doses)

    thimerosal: 1.25 mcg/kg/year = 0.0014% of LD50

    But wait! There’s more! The thimerosal dose is only given once a year, so to compare the two (in AoA fashion), we have to show the equivalent weekly dose:

    thimerosal: 1.25 mcg/kg/year = 0.024 mcg/kg/week = 0.000026% of the LD50.

    Of course, the comparison is utterly ridiculous and pointless, which I think is exactly what Sullivan had in mind in the first place.


  9. daedalus2u November 25, 2010 at 14:35 #

    Those 1 kg mice are the ones that Offit’s 100,000 vaccinations didn’t kill. It made them stronger and gigantic. Offit keeps them as pets/guard animals because they are so vicious (who wouldn’t be after 100,000 vaccinations), which is why Bonnie referred to them.

  10. Tim November 27, 2010 at 23:50 #

    “Good point, and nice illustration, but your ruined it just a bit by giving a 1kg mouse a full 25 mg dose.”

    Yeah, to be clear, the point is not to actually give 25 mg of drug to a 1 kg mouse. (And I say this realizing that a lot of people are playing on the joke of a humongous, potentially rat-devouring mouse.) It’s better for simplicity that readers don’t have to do arithmetic gymnastics in their heads in order to follow the author’s argument. And since, the dose for both drugs was equivalent to what a child might receive, the comparison holds perfectly.

  11. zoe January 27, 2011 at 19:08 #

    this is ridiculous. if you are so sure that thimersol isn’t toxic–why don’t you go and have 6 vaccinations with thimersol at once? that’s what my pediatrician did. and don’t forget to offer up some to your next newborn.

  12. Sullivan January 27, 2011 at 19:26 #


    thimerosal is toxic–in high doses. So is DMSA–in high doses. There is a hypocrisy involved when people claim that thimerosal is toxic *in the doses given* and yet considers it fine to ignore the fact that if thimerosal is toxic in this dose, DMSA certainly is.

    Of course this is all beside the point that thimerosal didn’t cause an autism epidemic. It also is beside the point that just because something is toxic, it doesn’t mean that it causes autism.

  13. Chris January 27, 2011 at 19:29 #

    zoe, it would be difficult to find any, all pediatric vaccines have been available without thimerosal for a decade. And I have had that happen with full thimerosal vaccines as a child while we prepared to move to South America (my father was transferred there for two years).

  14. Marcus Gitterle February 4, 2016 at 21:13 #

    Guys, the LD-50 is relatively meaningless here, from a toxicologic perspective. Certain toxins — and mercury is manifestly one from an evidentiary basis — clearly produce morbidity at doses well below the LD-50. Thus it is fatuous to use the LD-50 as a benchmark for relative toxicity with respect to morbidity vs. mortality. For a clear example, simply look at Pb (lead) toxicity: considerable morbidity (as well as a long-term mortality-rate increase) is now predicted from very small exposures, well under the Pb LD-50, so that nobody seriously advocates “safe” exposure limits for lead anymore. Not making any claims about specific disease causation here, nor specifically damning thimerosol, simply pointing out that the LD-50 is not a useful framework for this kind of toxicology.


  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - But…it’s toxic! « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com - November 24, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev and Sandra Cottingham, Oral Chelation. Oral Chelation said: But…it's toxic! http://bit.ly/dLbI9j […]

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