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Autism. Is the mercury from coal the cause?


 
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#1 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 05:58 PM

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that 1 in 88 American
children have an autism spectrum disorder, a 23 percent increase
since the agency’s 2009 review.

Though the cause of autism is yet not known, a burgeoning body of independent scientific research suggests that one factor that may be in play is environmental exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, most notably mercury, a common toxic byproduct at coal-fired power plants around the country."
http://ecowatch.org/...g-u-s-children/
http://www.ewg.org/r...t=Google Reader

http://www.ncbi.nlm....pubmed/15666339

http://www.ewg.org/

#2 encryptedbytes

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 10:19 PM

This is a subject close to me. My son (5) is on the autism spectrum. While his condition is on the mild end of the spectrum, it does present some challenges. I've been researching autism on and off for a little over a year now and was surprised by the recent reports indicating a rise in the autism rate from 1 in 100 to 1 in 88.

While the cause for autism is unknown, the general consensus I get from what I have been reading online is that the rise in the autism rate is simple to due increased awareness and, as a result, diagnosis.

I had a few articles to contribute, but being a new user, I cannot yet post links :sad: If you search Google for "autism ~rising" you'll find several articles on this topic.

#3 MakingCents

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:04 PM

I have worked in the autism community for more than 4 years now.  When I started the rate of autism in children was 1 in 150 (this # was based on children born in 2002).  In just FOUR years we have cut that number in HALF. 1.1 of all kids born in the US in 2009 will have autism.  

Think about that. 1 in 88!  The rate of childhood cancer is 1 in 5,000.  Now I am not comparing mild autism to any sort of childhood cancer but I was just trying to provide a visual on what the numbers indicated.  

Mercury from the coal is probably a leading reason for the increase in autism diagnosis.  Mercury in the air, in fillings, in vaccines contributes.  The aluminum int eh vaccinces, the flouride in the water.  The preservatives in the food.  All of that can contribute to the increase in autism.  


YES the diagnosis is better and awareness is better.   But for children born in 2007 the rate of autism was 1 in 110.  Just 2 years later the rate of autism is 1 in 88.    That can NOT be simply better diagnosis or awareness.  We dont know that much more about autism now than we did 2 years ago.

#4 encryptedbytes

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:25 PM

View PostMakingCents, on 31 March 2012 - 12:04 PM, said:

Mercury from the coal is probably a leading reason for the increase in autism diagnosis.

What information do you base this on? The information I have seen simply states that one factor may be neurotoxic chemicals such as mercury and goes on to say such things as:

Quote

much of the existing data that have been used to implicate environmental agents in ASD are limited by methodological shortcomings
(from the third link in OPs post)

Have you seen any information that shows that mercury and aluminum use increased in the during the time period that would account for the rise in autism rate? If anything, I would think that the use of mercury has gone down dramatically since mercury was determined to be poisonous.

I'm not trying to bust your chops about this, I'd just like to know more and ask that you share any concrete information you may have that I'm not aware of.

#5 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 03:38 AM

View Postencryptedbytes, on 31 March 2012 - 12:25 PM, said:

What information do you base this on? The information I have seen simply states that one factor may be neurotoxic chemicals such as mercury.

MakingCents said "Mercury from the coal is probably a leading reason for the increase in autism diagnosis."
Operative word being "probably".

There are many factors that could lead to autism; the cause is still unknown.
But from a common sense angle, anything and everything is chemicals and the toxins from coal are
cumulative.
It's not like 2011 was the first year we started burning that &^%^&-we've been burning it and pouring those
toxins (mercury) into our air for decades.
And children are more susceptible to toxins, before they are born and in childhood.

#6 encryptedbytes

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 06:45 AM

View PostShortpoet-GTD, on 01 April 2012 - 03:38 AM, said:

MakingCents said "Mercury from the coal is probably a leading reason for the increase in autism diagnosis."
Operative word being "probably".
I understand that. I am asking what makes it probable (more likely than not) that mercury from coal is the culprit as opposed to some other factor.

View PostShortpoet-GTD, on 01 April 2012 - 03:38 AM, said:

There are many factors that could lead to autism; the cause is still unknown.
Exactly. If we don't know what the cause is, how can we point to a specific thing and lay blame? It could be this, it could be that, or it could be something else. The cause of autism is, as you said, unknown.

View PostShortpoet-GTD, on 01 April 2012 - 03:38 AM, said:

But from a common sense angle, anything and everything is chemicals and the toxins from coal are cumulative.
It's not like 2011 was the first year we started burning that &^%^&-we've been burning it and pouring those toxins (mercury) into our air for decades.
And children are more susceptible to toxins, before they are born and in childhood.
If we've been doing it forever I would expect the autism rate to remain the same (assuming mercury from coal is the cause). Unless there was a similar increase in coal use coinciding with the increase in autism diagnosis, I don't see a correlation.

I get that you don't like chemicals from burning coal. I don't either, but making unsubstantiated claims only serves to undermine our credibility. We are better served by using objective reasoning and scientific fact to make the world a better place.

#7 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 07:04 AM

I posted the original article from the Centers for Disease Control.
"A burgeoning body of independent scientific research suggests that one factor that may be in play is environmental
exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, most notably mercury, a common toxic byproduct at coal-fired power plants
around the country."
The scientists are "leaning" in that direction.
The good news? It's being researched.

It is well established that mercury can damage fetuses, newborns and young children. It doesn't seem
that far of a stretch to me, but that's my opinion, and shouldn't be taken as fact. -_-
(But you gotta give me kudo's for starting a good conversation.) :laugh:

http://www.epa.gov/hg/effects.htm
http://www.medicinen...ing/article.htm
http://en.wikipedia....rcury_poisoning

#8 encryptedbytes

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 07:41 AM

View PostShortpoet-GTD, on 01 April 2012 - 07:04 AM, said:

The good news? It's being researched.
Absolutely! The more we research and look at the possibilities, the sooner we can identify the problem, and hopefully, the sooner we can know how to avoid it.

I saw an article not long ago (sorry, don't recall where) about a study that found that people with autism had more of a certain type of bacteria in the stomach. Now, the bacteria itself is more likely a symptom than a cause, but it gives us another clue on where we should be looking. What is this bacteria, what does it do, and where does it come from? I don't know, but these are all good questions that our research and science can now start looking into.

#9 E3 wise

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:31 AM

I have been away for a few weeks and so am just now catching up on the forums, but I have to say that I think this is a good thread and here is why, anytime we talk about the links between diseases like autism and pollution like mercury from coal it highlights one of the often forgotten issues of burning fossil fuels. Health effects.

Yes the research into a possible links for autism increase is ongoing, but I also think that the idea of better diagnosis and case reporting being the reason for the increases is also minor and here is why.

It’s not just autism that is on the rise, it’s also other neurological diseases such as Attention Deficit Disorder & Hyperactivity (ADD & ADDH), or respiratory issues like Asthma which is also seeing a huge rise in cases over the last few years.  In 2002 a United Nations report by UNICEF presented the conclusion that pollution from fossil fuels pesticides and chemicals where
Quote “major environmental problems directly affecting children, such as high levels of toxic chemicals and the degradation and depletion of natural resources.” And that “40% of Environmentally-Related Disease Burden is in Children under age 5.”

Link www. unicef.org/specialsession/press/02pr25diseases.htm

Since that report a decade ago the science has been consistently reinforcing and backing up these conclusions.
First and foremost encryptedbytes I am really sorry to hear your child has Autism, and honestly please do not feel anyone is ganging up on you or your ideas, we really like to have many different viewpoints and love new members participating.

What is important is to understand that many in these forums have been involved with these subjects for many years and are trying to bring the science you talk about to the forefront. As you said we all feel pollution is bad, and I know we all care about making a difference, it may not be mercury from coal but on the other hand we know for a fact that mercury is a major emission from coal fired power plants, which is why the EPA came out with new guidelines a few weeks ago, You can see this in a posting here at alt energy shift.

ShortPoet posted this tread in the form of a question to get people talking about a current news item the links provide information that present the same question, she did not say that mercury might be what was causing autism, the articles presented these ideas.  ShortPoet is the messenger and as such is simply trying to stimulate thoughtful, current, civil discussion on the forums.

You asked some great questions also.  One of the things you presented was the idea mercury exposures had gone down because it was a poison.  In fact over the last 20 years mercury and other pollutant exposure has gone up significantly because of the increases in coal fired power plants in the 80’s and 90’s, might sound crazy but it’s true.  

Which is why so many of us have made these types of articles a prime focus in our postings.  I am a member of the Beyond Coal Organization so I feel this is a really big deal. So here is another link if you are interested on the health effects of coal www. beyondcoal.org  

Lastly and most important welcome aboard and we are glad to have you.

#10 encryptedbytes

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 10:20 AM

View PostE3 wise, on 01 April 2012 - 08:31 AM, said:

First and foremost encryptedbytes I am really sorry to hear your child has Autism, and honestly please do not feel anyone is ganging up on you or your ideas, we really like to have many different viewpoints and love new members participating.
Oh, I don't feel ganged up on at all. The exchange of ideas and information is one of the things I enjoy the most. Not only do I like to challenge others on their views and opinions, but I like to be challenged as well. Such debate is a great way to learn because it makes us think and evaluate our positions and only serves to increase our knowledge. At the end of the day, I feel that if I haven't learned something and hopefully shared some good information with others, my time has been wasted.

View PostE3 wise, on 01 April 2012 - 08:31 AM, said:

...we know for a fact that mercury is a major emission from coal fired power plants, which is why the EPA came out with new guidelines a few weeks ago, You can see this in a posting here at alt energy shift.
I have not seen that post yet, but will find it. I am interested to know more about coal as an energy source. I'm not as up to speed on environmental issues as other may be, but I've long suspected there is more to these issues than "clean coal" marketing would have us know believe.

View PostE3 wise, on 01 April 2012 - 08:31 AM, said:

ShortPoet posted this tread in the form of a question to get people talking about a current news item the links provide information that present the same question, ...is the messenger and as such is simply trying to stimulate thoughtful, current, civil discussion on the forums.
I probably come across a bit strong at times, but my intent isn't to attack, but rather to engage the topic, throw some points out there, and help get the ball rollng. My appologies if I come across as an ass, I just enjoy the debate and getting good information out there.

View PostE3 wise, on 01 April 2012 - 08:31 AM, said:

In fact over the last 20 years mercury and other pollutant exposure has gone up significantly because of the increases in coal fired power plants in the 80’s and 90’s, might sound crazy but it’s true.

...So here is another link if you are interested on the health effects of coal www. beyondcoal.org
There's that information exchange that I enjoy so much! I've bookmarked it for reading time later :)

View PostE3 wise, on 01 April 2012 - 08:31 AM, said:

Lastly and most important welcome aboard and we are glad to have you.
Well met! I'm already enjoying the discussions here, and look forward to more :)

#11 Sarah C.

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 10:49 AM

My friends son has autism. She has done a lot of research, and I think they really so not know for sure what causes it. There are theories like elements of some vaccines, or pesticides...but they really and truly just don't know.

#12 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 02:41 PM

View PostE3 wise, on 01 April 2012 - 08:31 AM, said:

I have been away for a few weeks and so am just now catching up on the forums, but I have to say that I think this is a good thread and here is why, anytime we talk about the links between diseases like autism and pollution like mercury from coal it highlights one of the often forgotten issues of burning fossil fuels. Health effects.


ShortPoet posted this tread in the form of a question to get people talking about a current news item the links provide information that present the same question, she did not say that mercury might be what was causing autism, the articles presented these ideas.  ShortPoet is the messenger and as such is simply trying to stimulate thoughtful, current, civil discussion on the forums.
First of all, we're glad you're back; E3.  You are a valued member to this community. You share your expertise
willingly, and that is always welcome.

Second, thank you for those kinds words.
I try to post articles/ opinion pieces that do get people thinking and talking about solutions. You're a sweetie
for watching my back. :wub:

And last but not least, encryptedbytes-your thoughts, ideas, and opinions are always welcome here!

Not everyone will agree on topics, and if they did , it would be a major snooze fest. :lazy:

As long as we're civil in our disagreements, we will learn from each other.
(Btw-I used to have that picture (your avatar/cat) on a t-shirt. I'd wear it on Mondays.) :laugh:
And if I haven't said it before-welcome to our community of gabby greenies. :biggrin:

#13 still learning

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 03:59 PM

View PostSarah C., on 01 April 2012 - 10:49 AM, said:

but they really and truly just don't know.

That's my understanding.
In most cases the cause isn't known.

In a small percentage (maybe 2%) there are known genetic abnormalities that cause disease that falls into the autism category. http://www.sfgate.co.../MNPU1NS5LL.DTL   http://www.scienceda...11003151819.htm   http://en.wikipedia....cation_syndrome   http://en.wikipedia....letion_syndrome
Very interestingly one Wikipedia article deals with 1q21.1 deletion and the other with 1q21.1 duplication and in both cases a symptom can be autism.   Also note that in the case of the autistic patient described in the sfgate link his father has the same chromosomal abnormality but isn't autistic.

Mercury.
Definitely can cause trouble, but I don't know if an autism connection has been shown.
The mercury-in-vaccine supposed connection has been shown to be false.  The removal of mercury from childhood vaccines for ten years hasn't changed the incidence of new cases.  Also the research that brought up the issue to begin with has been shown to be bogus.
Mercury can kill.   http://en.wikipedia....aren_Wetterhahn
Mercury can cause ghastly disease in babies.  http://en.wikipedia....inamata_disease
"Mad as a hatter"  http://www.corrosion...-mad-hatter.htm

Mercury has been used for a long time for varied purposes, seem like if there were a straightforward connection between mercury and autism that the connection would have been spotted already.

If mercury is involved in autism, probably isn't straightforward, might involve some combination of mercury with another agent.  Maybe another chemical substance or maybe some virus or something else nobody suspects yet.

It'd be nice if there were links to some of the "burgeoning body" mentioned at EcoWatch and Environmental Working Group : "cause of autism is yet not known, a burgeoning body of independent scientific research suggests that one factor that may be in play is environmental exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, most notably mercury," (Interesting that the wording is exactly the same at EcoWatch and EWG.  Wonder who copied who.)

#14 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 03:09 AM

View Poststill learning, on 01 April 2012 - 03:59 PM, said:

It'd be nice if there were links to some of the "burgeoning body" mentioned at EcoWatch and Environmental Working Group : "cause of autism is yet not known, a burgeoning body of independent scientific research suggests that one factor that may be in play is environmental exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, most notably mercury," (Interesting that the wording is exactly the same at EcoWatch and EWG.  Wonder who copied who.)
I copied the quote from the original post/link I posted.

#15 mariaandrea

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 07:38 AM

I don't think we'll ever know the final "cause" of autism. Or cancer. Or a host of other diseases and health issues. Because I believe it's a cocktail of toxins that's mixed differently for different people and that affects different people differently. Mercury is a nasty substance. So is BPA and a whole lot of other things we're exposed to in modern daily life.

Think of it this way. We know it's extremely dangerous to mix ammonia and bleach. But we haven't studied every single seemingly random combination of chemicals and the effects on humans, and there are so many we probably can't. What if it turns out that ingesting tiny amounts of chemical A and minute amounts of chemical B and breathing tiny amounts of chemical C and exposing your skin to chemical D, all over a long period of time, causes birth defects or cancer in one person, but another is fine until you substitute chemical E for C, and so on and so on...

It seems plausible to me.

#16 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 09:26 AM

Hopefully, the dems will stay in office for awhile. The group that embraces science, knowledge and research. :huh:

#17 encryptedbytes

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 07:47 PM

View PostShortpoet-GTD, on 02 April 2012 - 09:26 AM, said:

Hopefully, the dems will stay in office for awhile. The group that embraces science, knowledge and research. :huh:
What?! You don't like the aggressive ignorance of ultra-conservative Republicans? Haha! just kidding of course. There are idiots on both sides of the aisle, but yeah, the Dems seem to be much more favorable towards science, research, and fact. I don't see us reaching any kind of energy independence and development of alternate energy sources under republican leadership.There's too much money and power in oil for them to let that happen.

#18 still learning

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:04 AM

An autism article today at NY Times: http://www.nytimes.c...-of-autism.html

The article partly about three new journal articles in Nature, all on autism and new genetic information:  http://www.nature.co...ture/index.html  (the content at that link will change soon)

Looks like the main takeaway is "a way forward," a possibility of quicker progress in understading at least some kinds of autism the near future.

(The new autism/genetic findings look to be indrpendent of what I linked to on 1 April in this thread )

#19 SpiroFlo

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:56 AM

View PostShortpoet-GTD, on 02 April 2012 - 09:26 AM, said:

Hopefully, the dems will stay in office for awhile. The group that embraces science, knowledge and research. :huh:

Politicians always embrace whoever provides the kickbacks.

Also, is autism being diagnosed more often? I recall hearing something about minor forms of autism being accurately labeled these days.

#20 tigerlily78

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 04:29 PM

I think there are likely several factors that can contribute to the increase in autism and other development and behavioral disorders we see on the rise. I also have a child who is on the Autism Spectrum... he is high functioning/Aspergers.

My son was born in Minnesota, just outside of St. Paul. I lived the first 19 years of my life in rural Minnesota and did not move to the city until about a year before I became pregnant with my son.

The area I lived most of my life is fairly distant from any coal plants (60+ miles from the nearest upwind plant)... but smack dab in the middle of miles and miles of corn and soybean fields. I always figured that pesticides were perhaps more likely to be a key cause because even women in urban and suburban areas are subjected to the use of pesticides and herbicides, often without their knowledge due to the ubiquitious use of lawn/landscaping chemicals.

I have been unable to figure out how I would have had a lot of exposure to heavy metals like mercury, etc based on my living situation and employment (never worked in heavy industry or near a landfill, did not eat a great amount of fish, etc.)

Of course there has already been a discovered correllation between proximity to coal plants and childhood leukemia.... it is not too much of a stretch of the imagination that exposure to coal emissions could also have detrimental effects on the developing embryo.

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