Proximity to point sources of environmental mercury release as a predictor of autism prevalence

University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio Department of Family and Community Medicine, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio Texas, Mail Code 7794, TX 78229-3900, USA.
Health & Place (Impact Factor: 2.81). 02/2008; 15(1):18-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2008.02.001
Source: PubMed


The objective of this study was to determine if proximity to sources of mercury pollution in 1998 were related to autism prevalence in 2002. Autism count data from the Texas Educational Agency and environmental mercury release data from the Environmental Protection Agency were used. We found that for every 1000 pounds of industrial release, there was a corresponding 2.6% increase in autism rates (p<.05) and a 3.7% increase associated with power plant emissions(P<.05). Distances to these sources were independent predictors after adjustment for relevant covariates. For every 10 miles from industrial or power plant sources, there was an associated decreased autism Incident Risk of 2.0% and 1.4%, respectively (p<.05). While design limitations preclude interpretation of individual risk, further investigations of environmental risks to child development issues are warranted.

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    • "The second factor that could be implicated in the case of clustering is an environmental mechanism that led to more cases in exposed areas. Importantly, there are no coal-fired power plants in Costa Rica, which are significant emitters of mercury and have been linked to spatial patterns of ASD diagnosis (Palmer et al., 2009). In terms of previously identified environmental factors, the most plausible mechanism for an environmental agent in Costa Rica is air pollution (e.g., Becerra et al., 2013), and because of the mountains that surround the densely populated Central Valley, the highest levels of air pollution are spatially concentrated near the HNN (Barrientos, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: In the U.S., children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been found to live in spatial clusters. Studies have suggested that the clustering is caused by social or environmental factors, but determining the cause of the clustering is difficult in the U.S. setting because of unmeasured variation in healthcare access and diagnostic practices. The present study explores the diffusion of ASD in a small setting in which the diagnosis is not widely publicised and there is no variation in healthcare access or diagnostic practices. Costa Rica provides universal healthcare and only has one diagnosing clinic for young children, and the diagnosis is relatively new and little known among clinicians and parents. In addition, the potential for mercury exposure from the source that has been associated with ASD is absent, and areas with high levels of air pollution are spatially concentrated. Focusing on all young children who underwent an ASD assessment from 2010 to 2013, we identify spatial clusters that suggest a mechanism that does not depend on information about ASD, healthcare access, diagnostic practices, or environmental toxicants. These findings provide details of the "contextual drivers" of the increasing worldwide prevalence of ASD. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Health & Place 08/2015; 35:119-127. DOI:10.1016/j.healthplace.2015.07.007 · 2.81 Impact Factor
    • "Several of these studies have demonstrated associations between ASD and prenatal or perinatal air concentrations of various air pollutants, including particulate matter (Becerra et al., 2013; Kalkbrenner et al., 2010, 2014; Roberts et al., 2013; Talbott et al., 2015; Windham et al., 2006). Additionally, proximity to sources of airborne pollutants, including industrial facilities (Palmer et al., 2009), agricultural pesticides (Shelton et al., 2014), and high-traffic roadways (Volk et al., 2011), have been associated with ASD diagnosis and school-reported administrative prevalence , respectively. Based on results from these studies, observed relationships should be further investigated on a larger scale using highly reliable data. "
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    ABSTRACT: Prenatal and perinatal exposures to air pollutants have been shown to adversely affect birth outcomes in offspring and may contribute to prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For this ecologic study, we evaluated the association between ASD prevalence, at the census tract level, and proximity of tract centroids to the closest industrial facilities releasing arsenic, lead or mercury during the 1990s. We used 2000 to 2008 surveillance data from five sites of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) network and 2000 census data to estimate prevalence. Multi-level negative binomial regression models were used to test associations between ASD prevalence and proximity to industrial facilities in existence from 1991 to 1999 according to the US Environmental Protection Agency Toxics Release Inventory (USEPA-TRI). Data for 2489 census tracts showed that after adjustment for demographic and socio-economic area-based characteristics, ASD prevalence was higher in census tracts located in the closest 10th percentile compared of distance to those in the furthest 50th percentile (adjusted RR=1.27, 95% CI: (1.00, 1.61), P=0.049). The findings observed in this study are suggestive of the association between urban residential proximity to industrial facilities emitting air pollutants and higher ASD prevalence. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Science of The Total Environment 07/2015; 536:245-251. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.07.024 · 4.10 Impact Factor
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    • "Exposure to maternal infections during critical periods of development, such as prenatal and perinatal periods, has also gained attention in the search for the etiology of autism [16] [17]. The increased incidence of autism in certain regions has suggested that there is a link between geography and the genetic predisposition to autism [18] [19] [20]. Bisphenol A (4,4 -dihydroxy-2,2-diphenylpropane; BPA) is one of the environmental toxins that has recently received increased attention. "
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    ABSTRACT: Developmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appear to have a complex etiology implicating both genetic and environmental factors. Bisphenol A (BPA), a widely used chemical in the plastic containers and in the linings of food and beverage cans, has been suggested to play a possible causative role in some developmental disorders. Here, we report behavioral modifications in Drosophila melanogaster following early exposure to BPA, which may suggest BPA as an environmental risk factor for the behavioral impairments that are the basis of diagnosis of autism and ADHD. In an open field assay with perinatally BPA-exposed and vehicle-treated control Drosophila, different parameters of locomotion (distance travelled, walking speed, spatial movement, mobility, turn angle, angular velocity and meander) were analyzed using the ethovision software. We also examined the repetitive and social interaction behaviors in these flies. In an open field assay, we identified disturbances in the locomotion patterns of BPA-exposed Drosophila that may relate to the decision-making and the motivational state of the animal. An increase in repetitive behavior was observed as an increase in the grooming behavior of Drosophila following BPA exposure. Furthermore, we also observed abnormal social interaction by the BPA-exposed flies in a social setting. These results demonstrate the effect of the environmentally prevalent risk agent BPA on the behavior of Drosophila, and suggest the practicability and the ease of using Drosophila as a model in the studies of neurobehavioral developmental disorders. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Behavioural Brain Research 02/2015; 284. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2015.02.001 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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