Quantcast
Popular

Mounting Evidence Links Lead, Mercury and Arsenic to Autism

In November 2016, I reported on six studies that found strong relationships between biomarkers for mercury toxicity in children with autism including a direct correlation between the levels of mercury toxicity and the severity of autism symptoms. Those findings are supported by recent research that links industrial exposures of lead, mercury and arsenic to the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


The study, led by a team of 13 scientists from leading American universities and hospitals, was published in the July 2016 issue of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Investigators studied the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data on 4,486 children with ASD residing in 2,489 census tracts across the country. They used an overlay of the Environmental Protection Agency regional air pollution data to determine if air concentrations of various metals could be connected with autism prevalence and found strong correlations between ambient concentrations of lead, mercury and arsenic and the occurrence of ASD. Tracts with air concentrations of lead in the highest quartile had significantly higher ASD prevalence than tracts with lead concentrations in the lowest quartile. In addition, tracts with mercury concentrations above the 75th percentile and arsenic concentrations below the 75th percentile had a significantly higher ASD prevalence compared to tracts with arsenic, lead and mercury concentrations below the 75th percentile.

An earlier study published in 2015 by an even larger research team found an association between urban residential proximity to industrial facilities emitting air pollutants (arsenic, lead or mercury) and higher autism prevalence.

Other recent studies have found significant associations between environmental sources of mercury exposure and ASD. A study, led by the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control, California Department of Health Services published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2006, implicated mercury, among other metals, as the air pollutant that is most associated with higher risks of ASD diagnoses among a sample of children born in the San Francisco Bay area in 1994. Meanwhile, a master's thesis completed at Louisiana State University in 2006 noted an association between mercury in fish and air emissions and developmental disorders, including autism.

Also in 2006 and then in 2009, researchers demonstrated that increases in environmental mercury emitted from power plants and distance from point sources of mercury exposure in Texas were significantly related to the risk of an individual being diagnosed with ASD. The 2006 study found that "on average, for each 1,000 lb of environmentally released mercury, there was a 43% increase in the rate of special education services and a 61% increase in the rate of autism." The 2009 study reported that "for every additional 10 miles of distance from industrial or power plant sources there was an associated decreased Incident Risk of 2.0% and 1.4%, respectively."

A 2013 study, primarily from Harvard researchers, found that women who lived in the areas with the highest levels of diesel particulates or airborne mercury were twice as likely to have a child with autism, compared with those who lived in the areas with the lowest levels of air pollution. Of the contaminants, "multi-pollutant models suggested mercury and methylene chloride to be the most robustly associated with autism," the study reported.

Clearly we are in desperate need to reduce exposures to these highly toxic metals that act synergistically in the body to cause harm. We are also in need of effective ways help restore health to those who have been injured.

Please visit World Mercury Project to learn more and sign up for updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Climate
Deep-sea corals may not be flashy, but they deserve a second look. Oceana

Ignoring Deep-Sea Corals Is Risky for the Oceans, and for Us

By Nathan Johnson

The deep sea might be cold and dark, but it's not barren. Down here, an incredible diversity of corals shelters young fish like grouper, snapper and rockfish. Sharks, rays and other species live and feed here their whole lives.

Brightly colored coral gardens, far beyond the reach of the sun's rays, don't just nurture deep-sea life. They also help advance medical research and understand climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Kristian Buus / Greenpeace

Green Groups Balk at England’s Plan to Fast Track Fracking

Government ministers published proposals Thursday that would speed the development of fracking in England, igniting opposition from environmental groups and local communities, The Independent reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy

Before Royal Wedding Sermon, Rev. Curry Stood With Standing Rock Pipeline Opponents

Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered a passionate wedding sermon to royal newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday, also gave a powerful message about two years ago to Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at Standing Rock, North Dakota.

On Sept. 24, 2016 at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the reverend offered the Episcopal Church's solidarity with the water protectors, noting that, "Water is a gift of the Creator. We must protect it. We must conserve it. We must care for it."

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Coral bleaching like this (in the Great Barrier Reef) is killing the largest reef in Japan. Oregon State University / CC BY-SA 2.0

Only 1% of Japan’s Largest Reef Still Healthy After Historic Bleaching Catastrophe

In a sobering reminder of the impact of climate change on marine biodiversity, a survey by the Japanese government found that barely more than one percent of the coral in the country's largest coral reef is healthy, AFP reported Friday.

The reef, located in the Sekisei Lagoon near Okinawa, has suffered mass coral bleaching events due to rising sea temperatures in 1998, 2001, 2007 and 2016.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy

Train Carrying 250,000 Liters of Fuel Derails on Kenyan Coast

A cargo train carrying 250,000 liters (66,000 gallons) of super petroleum, or unleaded gasoline, derailed off its tracks after taking a sharp turn along Kenya's eastern coast, forcing the closure of a major highway over the weekend, according to local reports.

The accident occurred early Sunday in Kibarani in Mombasa County, and prompted authorities to completely close off Makupa Causeway, the main link between the mainland and Mombasa Island, fearing a fire would break out after spillage of the highly flammable liquid, The Star, Kenya reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
The farm bill's historic conservation provisions are important for preserving grassland biodiversity, like this black-footed ferret and prairie dog. USFWS Mountain-Prairie / CC BY 2.0

Farm Bill Harmful to Endangered Species and Conservation Fails in House

A farm bill with dangerous consequences for endangered species and conservation efforts failed to pass the House on Friday, The Guardian reported.

The 2018 version of the major agricultural bill was criticized by environmental groups because it would have allowed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve new pesticides without assessing their impact on wildlife protected under the Endangered Species Act. The bill would also have cut funding for land conservation programs by $800 million over the next ten years.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Pixabay

Controversial Kangaroo Cull Underway in Canberra

By Stephanie Koorey

May is late autumn in the southern hemisphere, and as we creep closer to winter, Canberra, Australia's capital city, is carrying out its annual, and controversial, kangaroo cull. With some pride, the city is known as the "bush capital" due to its wide corridors of native grasslands and gumtree and casurina tree woodlands, and an abundance of accompanying wildlife. As the city sprawls, it is displacing native habitats. At the same time, suburban lawns and sports ovals offer appealing alternative spaces for some animals, particularly our largest and most mobile grazing species, the eastern grey kangaroo. Due in part to the near disappearance of the kangaroo's main natural predator, the dingo or wild dog, and declines in traditional Indigenous hunting, kangaroo populations have exploded over recent decades.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
pxhere

Opinion: The 2018 Farm Bill Battle Lines Have Been Drawn: Here’s What You Can Do

Last week, the Republican-drafted Farm Bill, called the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), failed spectacularly on the House floor when Republicans tried to leverage the farm bill to placate conservatives' agenda on immigration. Nevertheless, H.R. 2, which generally benefits large commodity producers while compromising long-term food security, provides a helpful view into where the policy battles are being fought on the road to passage.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!