The rancorous debates about a possible mercury autism link usually focus on vaccines and the mercury component of some vaccine preservatives. Mercury originating elsewhere in the environment is rarely mentioned as a possible causal factor for autism even though mercury is a powerful neurotoxin especiallydangerous for fetuses, babies and toddlers. A recent study by a team of San Antonio scientists may change those dynamics substantially as reported on MySa.com. The San Antonio scientists have found a statistically significant correlation between autism rates in Texas school districts and their proximity to power plants or other large industrial sources of mercury.
The team looked at mercury released from 39 coal-fired power plants and 56 industrial plants around the state and examined the autism rates from 1,040 school districts in Texas.
Researchers found that for every 1,000 pounds of mercury released into the environment, there was an overall 2.6 percent increase in autism rates in Texas school districts.
That rate jumped to 3.7 percent when looking at emissions from power plants alone. But it fell by 1 to 2 percent for every 10 miles from the source.
The study is published in the journal Health & Place.