Citing concerns about the safety of mercury in vaccines, RFK Jr challenged journalists and the public this week at the National Press Club in Washington, DC

World Mercury Project Chairman Mr Kennedy told the press conference that there was plenty of research saying that the chemicals in vaccines were unsafe, but none that said they were safe.

Pointing to piles of papers on a nearby table, he stated there were more than 240 studies on the toxicity of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, more than 80 studies on the link between mercury and autism, but none that show thimerosal is safe.

Source: World Mercury Project

He also claimed that reporters refused to look further into the potential link between vaccines and autism, and that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had vested interests in selling vaccines.

“We know the journalists don’t want to look into the science. So we are going to offer a $100,000 reward – it’s called the ‘100k challenge’ – to any journalist or anybody else who can point to a single existing study that says that it’s safe to inject mercury into little babies or pregnant women at the levels that we are currently injecting them in the flu vaccine,” he told reporters.

“You’re not going to be able to do it. The study doesn’t exist. You could not design a study that proved mercury was safe when injected into kids any more than you could do with lead.”

“This isn’t a gimmick,” said Mr Kennedy, explaining that they had enlisted “some of the greatest scientists in America … to act as judges in this contest.”

“When you send us this study that you say proves safety, we then submit it to those scientists and if you’re right, we are going to write you a cheque for a $100,000.”

According to the CDC, thimerosal hasn’t been used in vaccines for children since 2001.

While thimerosal is still used in some flu vaccines, patients are able to ask for a flu vaccine without it.

“Thimerosal has been used safely in vaccines for a long time (since the 1930s),” states the CDC.

“Scientists have been studying the use of thimerosal in vaccines for many years. They haven’t found any evidence that thimerosal causes harm.”

World Mercury Project supporter Robert De Niro, who sat beside Mr Kennedy as part of the press conference panel, is no stranger to controversy when it comes to vaccination claims.

Last year Mr De Niro, a Tribeca Film Festival co-founder, had included the film Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe in the festival lineup.

Vaxxed alleges a cover-up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a purported link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, and is directed by discredited former gastroenterologist and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield.

However Mr De Niro, whose son has autism, ended up cutting it from the lineup due to widespread pressure.

“My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family,” he said in a statement.

“But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”

The World Mercury Project was founded in California with the mission to “raise public awareness of the dangers and sources of mercury, with the ultimate goal of banning all uses of mercury on a global level”.