If you spend any amount of time on the internet researching science and pseudoscience, you’ll find alarming claims about toxic vaccines chemicals – you know, aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, and whatever unpronounceable molecule are all the rage for the anti-vaccine crowd. Of course, we obsess over substances not only in our vaccines, but also in our foods, air, water, and coffee. Many of us try to present scientific evidence about those toxic vaccine chemicals. It can be frustrating and time-consuming.
Generally, the pseudoscience argument proceeds along the lines of “these unpronounceable chemicals are going to cause cancer.” Followed by a new trope or meme that something in vaccines does something, often without a picogram of evidence.
But what the vaccine deniers are pushing about vaccines is based on a lack of knowledge about how toxicology – the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms, determines what is or isn’t toxic.
Paracelsus, a 16th-century Swiss-German physician, alchemist, astrologer, is traditionally thought to have founded the discipline of toxicology, an important branch of medicine, physiology, and pharmacology. Paracelsus wrote one of the most important principles of toxicology:
All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.
In other words, if you’re speaking about substances in foods or vaccines or anything, the most important principle is that the dose makes the poison (or toxin). Everything that we consume or breathe is potentially toxic but most important, overriding principle must be the dose.
So, I’m going to a disservice to the whole field of toxicology, which takes a lifetime of research and study, and I will attempt to digest it down to a few paragraphs, especially as it relates to those vaccine chemicals.