Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Fallacy about acrodynia (pink disease)

On the leftbrainrightbrain blog, "daedalus" asked:

RPC, why don’t you read up on what was called Pink Disease. It was a serious disease of children in the first half of the 20th century. It was a leading cause of death, with about 23% of child deaths attributed to it. Eventually it was realized that it was actually mercury poisoning from teething powders. Many of the teething powders that were produced and sold had a grain of mercurous chloride in them. Yes, a grain. If you don’t have the conversion factor handy, that is 65,000 micrograms per dose. Yes, 65,000 micrograms of mercurous chloride per dose, and many children were given multiple doses. Many tens of millions of doses were sold, with a single company reporting sale of 30,000,000 doses in one year.
Many tens of millions of children received many thousands of times more mercury from teething powders than ever received from vaccines. Mercury from teething powders gave many children pink disease and killed over a thousand. Where is the autism from the first half of the 20th century when children were given so much mercury that over a thousand were killed by it?

To which I reply:

Pink disease has zilch to do with my explanation of any autism causation, or the data I will be citing in relation to mercury. The key causal variable posited in my update review is constant inhalation of elemental mercury vapor. It matters little how many tons of mercurous chloride were applied to infants, as Hg2Cl2 is a very different chemical from mercury vapor. The former is a substantially stable solid, whereas the latter is a highly reactive gas. Indeed it’s well-known that chlorine (gas) strongly counteracts the toxicity of mercury gas, rendering it far less toxic to the workers in chlor-alkali plants. It does so by reacting with the mercury to produce mercury-chlorine salts such as the same Hg2Cl2 that was involved in Pink disease.

Indeed "daedalus" above states that:
Many tens of millions of doses were sold, with a single company reporting sale of 30,000,000 doses in one year.
and yet only:
over a thousand were killed by it
which indicates a death rate of something like only one in a million, not exactly the most deadly formula in history.

Furthermore, the mercurous chloride was put in the babies' mouths. It's well-known that even elemental mercury has little or no toxic effect, is neglibly absorbed, when swallowed. And furtherfurthermore, those teething powers were of course not applied except at teething age (apologies for dazzling you with this rocket science here!), whereas the causality described in my update review requires continuous sustainedintake.

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