Mercury in Medicine

While most people have heard that the mercury base preservative thimerosal was used in infant vaccines and continues to be used in several vaccine preparations including influenza, tetanus and meningococcal vaccines, most consumers have no idea that mercury is also a commonly used ingredient in other pharmaceutical products including nasal sprays, eye drops, ear drops and injectable testosterone.

There are several hundred peer-reviewed scientific publications published over the last 7 decades by leading research scientists, and public health agencies that have confirmed that thimerosal is a potent neurotoxin. It has never been proven safe for medical use and cost-effective alternatives exist.

There are, at last count, over 100 FDA-approved pharmaceutical products which contain mercury. The typical amount of mercury in these products is 50,000 ppb. To put this in perspective, the EPA requires liquid waste which exceeds 200 ppb of mercury to be sent to a special hazardous waste landfill and according to the EPA, drinking water cannot exceed 2 ppb of mercury. So, technically, if these products are not used, they must be disposed of as hazardous waste.

What makes the fact that mercury continues to be used in medical products even more disturbing is the fact that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized the inherent risks from the use of mercury in medicine since 1975 when they convened an expert panel to review its use in over the counter (OTC) products. The FDA published proposed rules in the Federal Register on January 5, 1982 that found mercury containing products were toxic, caused cell death, and in the case of thimerosal, were only as effective as water as a preservative. The panel members concluded that all mercury based preservatives used in over the counter products should be labeled as category II, “not being generally recognized as being safe or effective.”

Despite the expert panel’s recommendation, the FDA did not actually act on these recommendations until 1998. In the final rulemaking, the FDA stated that the safety and effectiveness have not been established for the ingredients (mercury based preservatives) included in this current final rule and manufacturers have not submitted the necessary data in response to earlier opportunities. The agency’s experience has been that under these circumstances companies have not submitted data in response to yet another opportunity. Consumers will benefit from the early removal from the marketplace of products containing ingredients for which safety and effectiveness has not been established.”

One might ask how is it possible that one division of the FDA recognizes that there is absolutely no safety or effectiveness data available for the use of mercury in over the counter products and essentially ban their use in over the counter products, while the FDA division of blood and biologics continues to allow their wide spread use in over 200 prescription products?

The FDA expert panel report from 1982 states “It has been the general course of events that, whenever a mercury compound has been tried for a particular therapeutic function, it has been used enthusiastically at first, only to be replaced by a safer or more effective drug.”

Robert Kennedy Jr. published a book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak which summarizes several hundred peer-reviewed scientific publications which confirm that thimerosal is a dangerous neurotoxin that has never been proven safe for use and for which cost-effective alternatives exist. It is beyond time for the use of mercury in medicine to finally end.

Because our federal health agencies have not kept pace with the science, it is up to the consumer to be knowledgeable about what products contain mercury and responsible for protecting themselves from this unnecessary risk. Be sure to read labels and read the report below regarding the use of mercury in drugs and biological products and the use of mercury in vaccines and be sure to avoid their use.

Autoimmunity and Metal Implants, Devices, and Vaccine Adjuvants

By Amanda Just, MS, and Jack Kall, DMD, MIAOMT, World Mercury Project Partner


Autoimmune diseases are on the rise, with more and more people being stricken with these illnesses each year. The fact that the average person’s overall exposure to chemicals, including metals, has drastically increased over the past century cannot be overlooked when discussing the synonymous rise of autoimmune illnesses.

It is generally agreed that autoimmune conditions are related to a combination of genetic traits and environmental factors.  “Environmental factors” is a phrase that encompasses all aspects of the environment with which humans interact, including bacteria, viruses, chemicals, etc.

Even trace amounts of metals can potentially cause a reaction.

Metals have been recognized as one of the environmental factors capable of contributing to autoimmune disease, and metals have also been recognized as one of the triggers capable of producing inflammation.  Reactions are more likely to occur for individuals who are genetically predisposed to having lower excretion rates of metals, as well as other individualized factors.  Even trace amounts of metals can potentially cause a reaction.

Autoimmune Conditions Associated with Metals

While numerous health conditions have been related to the presence of metals in the body, scientific research has clearly shown that autoimmune diseases can be associated with metals used in dentistry and medicine, including metals in implants, devices, and vaccine adjuvants/preservatives (such as aluminum and mercury).  Several of the autoimmune conditions studied scientifically for their relation to metal exposure in this regard include the following:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Diabetes (Type 1 Mellitis)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gulf War Syndrome
  • Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)
  • Macrophagic Myofasciitis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Oral Lichen Planus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some metals are recognized as essential to human life and serve important roles within the human body. However, the beneficial effects of trace elements are based on safe and adequate intake levels, with too little resulting in deficiencies and too much resulting in toxicities. Many of the metals used in dentistry and medicine have no established function in the human body, such as aluminum, which is both a neurotoxin and an immune stimulator, and mercury, which is recognized as being toxic even in low doses.

Onset of Symptoms Can Be Delayed

An issue with calculating the number of patients who have adverse reactions to metals is that the onset of symptoms can be delayed and therefore might not be associated with the implant, device, or vaccine adjuvant.  Another issue is that there may not be any local reaction on the skin or in the mouth to help the patient and doctor identify the metal as the culprit in ill health. Even if hypersensitivity reactions are noticed, they can be misdiagnosed as infection.

In some genetically susceptible individuals, metals can trigger allergies, and recent studies and reports tend to agree that metal allergies are on the rise.  Clinical screening for metal allergy has been recommended, but the importance of patients reporting reactions to metals to their doctors has also been emphasized.

…sensitization to metal can develop years after an implant or device has been placed…

In addition to reporting any rashes from jewelry, watches, or other metal exposures, it is essential for each patient to recognize the gamut of symptoms that can be related to the presence of a metal implant, device, or adjuvant in their body, such as the development of an autoimmune disease.  It is also vital for patients to remember that sensitization to metal can develop years after an implant or device has been placed and that adverse effects can occur with or without the sign of a rash or eruption on the skin or in the mouth.

Improving or Recovering After Removal of Metals

Removal of metal implants and devices is an obvious course of action when adverse effects occur.  Indeed, the scientific literature is abundant with cases of individuals improving or recovering from autoimmune diseases usually within a year or two after removal of the offending metal.  Examples of health conditions related to metal implants, devices, and vaccine adjuvants that improved (or from which patients even recovered) upon removal of metals in the body include autoimmune thyroiditis, chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, oral lichen planus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus.


It is important to note that many factors can influence whether or not a patient improves after the removal of a metal implant or device.  While many patients improve or even recover, there are some who do not.  One obvious reason for this is if the patient is still being exposed to the metal or a different sensitizer through another implant, device, vaccine adjuvant, or other source.  Additional impediments in achieving improved health can include the presence of another illness and/or allergy, exposure to certain pesticides, solvents, molds, and foods, hormonal imbalances, stress, a sedentary lifestyle, and countless other circumstances.

Meanwhile, even though alternatives are available, millions of people are being exposed to metals used in dentistry and medicine.  Simultaneously, millions of people are suffering from autoimmune diseases, with substantial numbers of new patients being diagnosed each year. For all these reasons and more, it is imperative to recognize that metal implants, devices, and vaccine adjuvants can be a contributing factor to ill health.


A more detailed version of this article (Autoimmune Diseases and Metal Implants and Devices) can be found on the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology’s SMART website.

Author Bios:
These writers co-authored a chapter about the health risks of dental mercury that was published in a textbook about epigenetics from Springer in 2016.

Amanda Just, MS:  Ms. Just is the Program Director of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology.  She is also a freelance writer and dental consumer who has shared her writings about the impact of dental mercury amalgam fillings with the United Nations Environment Programme, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and various NGOs.

John Kall, DMD:  Dr. Kall serves as the Chairman of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology’s Board of Directors.  He is a member of the American Dental Association, a fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), Past President of the KY Chapter of the AGD, a member of the Louisville Dental Society, and a member of the Kentucky Dental Association


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American Academy of Pediatrics – Technical Report: Mercury in the Environment: Implications for Pediatricians

In response to the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997,1 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been reviewing the use of mercury in regulated biological products. In June 1999, the FDA notified the American Academy of Pediatrics that some infants given routine immunizations could exceed 1 of 3 federal guidelines for daily exposure to mercury because of the presence of thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative, in some vaccines.2 Currently, all vaccines in the recommended vaccination schedule do not contain thimerosal as a preservative. This technical report provides additional information about the sources, exposures, and toxicity of the 3 forms of mercury in the environment and implications for pediatricians.

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Federal Register 4-22-98 Thimerosal not GRASE and misbranded

Summary: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing an advance notice of a proposed rulemaking that would classify over-the-counter (OTC) mercury-containing drug products for topical antimicrobial use as not generally recognized as safe and effective and as being misbranded…

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1982 Federal Register Mercury in OTC products ANPR

Summary: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing an advance notice of a proposed rulemaking that would classify over-the-counter (OTC) mercury-containing drug products for topical antimicrobial use as not generally recognized as safe and effective and as being misbranded…

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Mercury in Drug and Biologic Products

The information in this list is derived from submissions made by manufacturers+ in response to the agency’s call-for-data notices of December 14, 1998 (63 FR 68775), April 29, 1999 (64 FR 23083) and February 3, 2003 (68 FR 5299), the agency’s Drug Registration and Listing System, and other agency sources.

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