A new study shows a statistically significant link between pounds of industrial release of mercury and increased autism rates. It also shows — for the first time in scientific literature — a statistically significant association between autism risk and distance from the mercury source.
This study found that community autism prevalence is reduced by 1 percent to 2 percent with each 10 miles of distance from the pollution source.
“This study was not designed to understand which individuals in the population are at risk due to mercury exposure,” explains lead author Raymond F. Palmer, PhD. “However, it does suggest generally that there is greater autism risk closer to the polluting source.”
“We suspect low-dose exposures to various environmental toxicants, including mercury, that occur during critical windows of neural development among genetically susceptible children may increase the risk for developmental disorders such as autism,” the authors write.
Health & Place – March, 2008;Epub.