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For the record

"Is aluminium really a silent killer?" Image

"Is aluminium really a silent killer?"

On 5th March 2012, The Daily Telegraph published an article which remembered the 1988 Camelford water contamination incident in Cornwall, UK, where 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate leaked into the water supply. The article then goes on to question the safety of aluminium in every day life, including in vaccines, cooking pots and food and drink.

We asked Professor Adam Finn, Head of the Academic Unit of Child Health at Bristol Medical School to respond: 

"Over the last 60 years countless millions of babies all over the world, including the large majority of the people who currently live in the UK have received vaccines containing aluminium salts. If this was dangerous, we might have noticed something  by now. Like other constituents of our diet and medicines to which we are all exposed, aluminium deserves attention and study. However, suggestions that it is causing problems at current levels of exposure remain hypothetical, even following the episode of massive accidental exposure as described in this article. In contrast, evidence of the life-saving benefits we enjoy as a result of widespread use of childhood vaccines are not hypothetical but proven. Also proven is the important effect that aluminium salts have to increase the protective responses of many of the vaccines we use. We have learned to our cost what happens when unproven theories about imagined harms of vaccines are given widespread and uncritical publicity. Measles is back. Better to worry about real risks and use proven ways to avoid them than take unnecessary risks trying to avoid dangers that may not even exist."

Document type: For The Record

Published: 6 March 2012

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