Formaldehyde, a chemical used to preserve dead bodies, sure does have a bad name! But, when it comes to our bodies, this chemical may surprise you.
First off, some vaccines contain formaldehyde.
Some vaccines work because the virus that causes disease or the toxin that causes a bacterial infection is inactivated for use in the vaccine. (Inactivated viral vaccines.) (Toxoid vaccines.) The chemical used to do the inactivating is formaldehyde.
This amount is so small that it doesn’t even hold a candle to the amount of formaldehyde found naturally in your body.
Surprise! Formaldehyde is found naturally in your body!
Your body produces formaldehyde during normal metabolic processes–it plays a massive part in your metabolism.
The formaldehyde found inside you is either made by your body or gained externally.
Formaldehyde is found in the environment. It’s a common chemical used in the production of resins and adhesives, some fabrics, foams, paper products, and insulation. It’s used to preserve dead tissues.
It’s found in our air. And according to the NIH, the primary source of our exposure comes by breathing it in. It comes from off-gassing from products like carpet, upholstery, and combustibles. It’s also found in car exhaust, tobacco smoke, power plant smoke, forest fires, and wood stoves.
If you aren’t inhaling formaldehyde from the environment, you’re ingesting it. It’s everywhere. Not only in the air, but in the soil, in our foods, in our drinking and bottled water, and in surface and groundwater. It’s in apples, pears, carrots, milk. Sometimes it’s in our cosmetics.
Eating certain fruits, vegetables, or drinking fermented drinks that contain methanol will break down in your body into many byproducts, including formaldehyde.
It’s okay. Your body NEEDS formaldehyde. If you don’t get it from the environment, your body will MAKE IT. The body makes formaldehyde when demethylating DNA (a process used to control gene expression). It also may make it break it down. When it is broken down, it’s products are used to synthesize DNA, mediate hormone signaling, and play roles in energy transfer.
Now, your body doesn’t distinguish one molecule of formaldehyde over another. No matter where it comes from–your carpet, an apple, a vaccine–it’s all the same. And it also doesn’t discriminate when breaking it down. Your body has the ability to get rid of the excess amounts that would be toxic, and it’s all broken down into byproducts and then excreted in the same way. Formaldehyde is eliminated as formate in the urine or breathed out as CO2.
Yes, excessive amounts may be very harmful. But this is most common in those people who use formaldehyde daily in large quantities for long periods of time. Cancers appear to only be related tissues in the respiratory pathways due to excessive inhalation of formaldehyde. However, there is very little data to back even this up.
There is no evidence that the trace amounts of formaldehyde in vaccines will lead to cancers. And any side effects due to short term low-level exposure are reversible. (2)
Formaldehyde, as I said, is excreted by your body. Therefore, you do not need to worry about it building up in your body or accumulating in your children after multiple vaccinations. The trace amounts injected are eliminated rapidly within hours.
And if you’re still concerned, the most formaldehyde your child will ever get from vaccinations will occur at the 6-month check-up. The vaccines with formaldehyde include the HepB, DTaP, IPV, and sometimes the influenza vaccine for a total of around 307.5μg of formaldehyde. This amount is 160 times less than the total amount their body naturally produces every single day. (Compare that to the 428.4-1,516.4μg of formaldehyde in a single apple.)(4)
So, there you have it. A chemical that once sounded pretty frightening doesn’t have to be so scary anymore.
And now you know that without formaldehyde, you’d be dead. (And not well preserved, might I add.)
1. “Common Ingredients in U.S. Vaccines.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Human Health and Services. www.fda.gov
2. Vaccine Education Center. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. http://vec.chop.edu
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov
4. Harpocrates Speaks. www.harpocratesspeaks.com