Wednesday, May 19, 2010

11 Pounds of Mercury A Year

Correction September 20, 2010
This blog entry is in error.  I used 200 million as the US population.  That's way too low. A current number is 307 million.  That means I've underestimated the ethylmercury burden from vaccines by a vast amount.  Using 300 million, it isn't 11 pounds but 17.5 pounds. But let us round it up to 20 pounds. 

Disposing of vaccine that contains thimerosal has to be done as a hazardous material. That has nothing to do with the safety of using vaccines with thimerosal.  An even more ridiculous concern is that thimerosal is bad because except for a very, very, very small amount all the ethylmercury is excreted and ends up in the water waste stream.

Assume 25mcg per flu shot dose. A million doses is 25 grams. Assume half the US population (200 million is close enough) is vaccinated that's 5000g or about 11 pounds that is widely dispersed into sewage systems all over the US. In 2004, US coal plants are estimated to have given off about 105,000 pounds of mercury. These are point sources.
Of course, there are many other ways that mercury from man made processes gets into the air, the water and the soil, which makes the contribution from excreted ethylmercury even less of a concern.

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