Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal


Evidence Type: Research (Generic)
Burbacher TM, Shen DD, Liberato N, Grant KS, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T. Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Aug;113(8):1015-21 - Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. - PubMed - NCBI Score: 0.0/0.0


This research involved adding thimerosal to vaccines, injecting them into monkeys, then running tests to see what happens There are numerous problems with this research however:

  • There is a lot of noise in the data, making any useful reading difficult at best
  • There is no data for before This means comparisons between before injection and after injection are impossible
  • The vaccines used were not designed to contain thimerosal It is therefore difficult to predict any chemical reactions which may have occurred as a result of adding it to the vaccine
  • Some of the results shown in this research contradict with other similar research, lending further doubt to this research
  • By referring to thimerosal as 50% mercury by weight, the author(s) demonstrate either a complete understanding of chemistry and its applications to toxicity, or a bias in their reasoning

So, this research does not demonstrate vaccines cause autism At best it can provide information about the "rate at which different forms of mercury are removed from a primate’s brain and bloodstream"

You can read more about this research here:



Strength/Weakness 1

Strong weakness: Well Designed Research

There is no data provided for before injection, making all readings virtually useless.

Strength/Weakness 2

Strong weakness: Demonstrable Bias

Considering the noise in the results, the lack of before/after comparisons, and the biased representation of thimerosal as 50% mercury by weight, we can be relatively certain that the author(s) have at least some bias

Conclusion 1

The research claims to have som evidence against the safety of thimerosal but given the non-standard application, noisy results, and Lack of before/after comparisons it would be wrong to draw any meaningful conclusions

Conclusion 2

It has been claimed this research is proof positive that vaccines cause autism Despite the fact that the research doesn't actually conclusively demonstrate harm from thimerosal, and the overwhelming evidence saying that thimerosal does not cause autism

Conclusion 3

As expected this research caused quite a stir when it came out. Now that there are strong refutations to the research, comments about it have died down a lot.

Conclusion 4

There have been many references to this research by the anti-vax crowd, and as usual very little in actual data content.

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