Wednesday, July 17, 2019

#2217: Cindy Schneider

Cindy Schneider is – apparently –medical advisor for the antivaccine group SafeMinds. Schneider is very much concerned with mercury in flu vaccines (that would be thimerosal and ehtylmercury, but SafeMinds has never been particularly concerned with details of chemistry), and was for instance the zombie-like narrator of a 2011 propaganda video targeting ob-gyns about the dangers of vaccines. The video is discussed here. Among the false and misleading claims in the video were the assertion that some vaccines contain up to 250x the levels of mercury identified by the EPA as HAZARDOUS WASTE. The EPA, of course, does not classify hazardous waste by levels at all, but consistency in its details has, of course, never mattered to groups like SafeMinds. Elsewhere, the video mostly lies and misrepresents the science (e.g. this one), for instance concerning the safety levels for, well, methylmercury, in fact – which is chemically very different from ethylmercury, but again: those would be details and facts, not anything SafeMinds’s target audience would or should be concerned with. They also provide a fine example of selection bias when they list a number of famously bad and discredited “studies” on the dangers of vaccines – these studies, on the other hand, would obviously not interest the target audience. Schneider is, of course, by her own assertion not antivaccine but pro-safe-vaccine.
Hat-tip: Destroyedbyscience
Otherwise, Schneider is Medical Director of CARE, the Center for Autism Research and Education, and runs an integrative medical practice (forget the contradiction) offering treatments for “the immune, gastrointestinal, and metabolic aspects of autism and the identification of environmental toxins contributing to the autism epidemic”. Needless to say, no one with autism should be subjected to quackery based on such myths – including the myth of the “autism epidemic”. And apparently Schneider “takes a functional medical approach” to illness and conditions like autism; her center also offers e.g. hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and she claims that “any genetic weaknesses can be overcome with lifestyle changes and high quality nutritional supplements.” This is false, and as an MD, it is hard to believe that Schneider doesn’t know better. And yes, her website does indeed feature a prominent link to a store (Aperture International, a company that sells supplements, founded and run by … Schneider, of course).

Diagnosis: There is no way around it: Cindy Schneider is corrupt to the core. A ghastly excuse for a human. And for those in doubt, here is a decent piece of advice: Never ever take medical advice from a website with a store tab.
Hat-tip: Unsure of the source


  1. Just like to make a correction to your post.
    The EPA does indeed classify hazardous waste, at least partially, by levels. The main set of hazardous waste regulations is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In these regulations, hazardous waste is defined by several criteria. One of these is called Characteristic Hazardous Waste which defines waste as hazardous if it exhibits one or more of four "characteristics": ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.
    The toxic characteristic is in turn defined as having a concentration of a fairly short list of toxic contaminants at or above a certain concentration when subjected to a defined laboratory analysis protocol called the Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). Mercury is indeed one of the listed contaminants. It's been a few years since I worked in the hazardous waste biz, but if memory serves the level for Hg is 0.2 mg/L (~ppm). It also doesn't matter what form the mercury is in (methyl, ethyl, elemental, or any other form), as long as it is detectable with the methods given in the TCLP. However whether a discarded ampule of flu vaccine would be classified by the EPA as characteristic hazardous waste is totally irrelevant to whether the vaccine is safe or not. A discarded bottle of whiskey could also be classified as a characteristic hazardous waste under the ignitability characteristic. Discarded gasoline would exhibit two characteristics: ignitability and toxicity due to benzene.

  2. Just for additional information the above info about hazardous waste can be found in title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR) part 261 subparts B and C.