Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the chairman of the World Mercury Project.
The nonprofit organization’s goal is to “ban all uses of mercury on a global level.”
The group states that mercury is the second most toxic element on Earth and can cause inflammation in brain tissue. That inflammation has been connected to autism, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments.
The group says mercury is released into the air by coal-fired power plants and can be found in our food supply.
Mercury is also in thimerosal, a preservative that in the past was used in some but not all childhood vaccines. The ingredient was removed as a safety precaution in 2003.
Thimerosal is still used in flu and tetanus shots.
Officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say thimerosal is safe to use as a preservative in vaccines, but Kennedy and others aren’t convinced.
They point out that flu shots are given to pregnant women as well as children.
The group feels strongly enough about the issue that they held a press conference last month and offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who can present a peer-reviewed study that proves that thimerosal is safe.
Healthline has taken a look at both sides of the vaccination debate in a detailed article.
As part of that research, Healthline talked with Kennedy about his concerns. Here are excerpts from that half-hour interview.
Healthline: Why is this issue so important to you?
Kennedy: I was litigating and managing around 30 cases against coal-fired power plants, principally focusing on mercury emissions. I had learned a lot about mercury toxicity. I was going around the country speaking on the issue and I began running into women who would tell me that if I was truly interested in mercury exposures to children that I needed to look at thimerosal in vaccines … As I began reading the science, I was struck by the huge delta between what the actual science said and how it was being presented by the press and the public health regulators … It made me angry that they were continuing the practice of injecting children with neurotoxins.
Healthline: It seems that there is an element in here of fighting against big business. It seems that you could compare this to what the sugar and the tobacco industry did with science.
Kennedy: Sugar, tobacco, the carbon industry. They all did this.
Healthline: Do you see a similarity here?
Kennedy: It’s very similar. This is really almost identical to the global warming debate because you have all the independent science … saying there is an effect. In other words, that carbon is warming the globe and with neurodevelopment disorders [that] mercury in vaccines are causing [them]. Then you have a small [amount] of industry-created science … that purportedly exonerates thimerosal and is really designed and written by industry scientists … and it appears on the CDC’s website. But the science is weak and fraudulent … We brought to our press conference 321 studies … 240 studies on neurological effects other than autism and 81 studies indicating a link to autism. We could not find a single study that says thimerosal was safe … What the CDC tells you is not science. What The New York Times reports is not science. And what your doctor tells you is not science … If you look at [studies] done by research scientists you will find a mountain of studies that support my position and very, very few studies that dispute me.
Healthline: What about vaccines in general? Would you agree that the vast majority of science says vaccines in general are safe?
Kennedy: It’s not my expertise. I don’t think there is any study you can do that would say that particular thing. I think you’d have to look vaccine by vaccine.
Healthline: It seems your main concern is the flu shot, which is given to children and pregnant woman. Is that your focus?
Kennedy: It’s being given to children at 6 months and it’s being given to pregnant women. So, today the exposure a child suffers is probably the greatest in history. If you give a flu shot to a woman who is one or two months pregnant, that child could be getting thousands of times of exposure levels to mercury.
Healthline: You’re talking about a pretty big cover-up or conspiracy here. Do you really think those agencies are in cahoots? That there’s all this corruption within the industry? Because that’s what it would take to pull this off?
Kennedy: The CDC has systemically [within its vaccine branch] ordered its scientists to destroy data, to manipulate data, to massage it, to dump it in garbage cans [if it uncovers] links between development diseases and vaccines. Do I think everyone at the CDC is corrupt? Of course not. There is a tiny handful of corrupt scientists and leaders … The rest of the public health community is not part of any conspiracy, but it has [become part of] the orthodoxy. It’s the same as the pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church … There was a tiny handful of corrupt priests, but the entire church — the bishops, the cardinals, the Vatican, and the other priests — and the prosecutors and the press and the police … told themselves it was more important to protect the institution even though it was injuring the children it was supposed to be protecting. The scandal and silence went on for years before it was exposed.
Healthline: Why would this handful [of CDC employees] do this?
Kennedy: [When information on thimerosal reached CDC officials] they said that if we come clean about this, not only are we going to get sued, but the vaccine companies are going to get sued, and they won’t be able to make any vaccines. I think there was a worry ... that if they told the truth, that the American people would lose faith and the institution would be so badly injured that maybe it would create even bigger problems with public health … It’s not completely selfish … There was a genuine concern that this could destroy the whole program and they had to clean it up.
Healthline: Are you worried at all that some of the antivaccination campaigns … could do just that? That they could harm the overall vaccine industry and cause harm to public health?
Kennedy: I don’t see how they can do that because Congress has now passed a law that makes it virtually impossible to sue a vaccine company.
Healthline: Taking this a little broader, do you worry at all that some of the vaccine safety concerns from people might feed into the antiscience mood that seems to be building in the country and that includes climate change?
Kennedy: I’m trying to fight that trend and get people to pay attention to real science. There’s so much scientific illiteracy, especially in the press. The press doesn’t read science … They just parrot what the CDC tells them. Is there any other arena where the press thinks it’s OK to just parrot what a government official tells them?
Healthline: There’s something folks on the other side have said … They think a lot of this is fueled by parents who understandably just want an answer, just something to blame, for their kids’ autism. What would be your response to that?
Kennedy: They are dismissing the stories of tens of thousands that saw the same thing happen to their children … What are the chances they all made up the same story? ... If this is not caused by mercury, then find out what it is and get rid of it.