Autism Risk Linked To Distance From Power Plants, Other Mercury-releasing Sources
Is the risk of autism greater for children who live closer to the pollution source? (Credit: iStockphoto/Marcin Pawinski)
ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2008) — How do mercury emissions affect pregnant mothers, the unborn and toddlers? Do the level of emissions impact autism rates? Does it matter whether a mercury-emitting source is 10 miles away from families versus 20 miles? Is the risk of autism greater for children who live closer to the pollution source?
A newly published study of Texas school district data and industrial mercury-release data, conducted by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, indeed 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 is not a definitive study, but just one more that furthers the association between environmental mercury and autism,” said lead author Raymond F. Palmer, Ph.D., associate professor of family and community medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. The article is in the journal Health & Place.
Dr. Palmer, Stephen Blanchard, Ph.D., of Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and Robert Wood of the UT Health Science Center 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,” Dr. Palmer said. “However, it does suggest generally that there is greater autism risk closer to the polluting source.”
The study should encourage further investigations designed to determine the multiple routes of mercury exposure. “The effects of persistent, low-dose exposure to mercury pollution, in addition to fish consumption, deserve attention,” Dr. Palmer said. “Ultimately, we will want to know who in the general population is at greatest risk based on genetic susceptibilities such as subtle deficits in the ability to detoxify heavy metals.”
The new study findings are consistent with a host of other studies that confirm higher amounts of mercury in plants, animals and humans the closer they are to the pollution source. The price on children may be the highest.
“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 wrote.
* Mercury-release data examined were from 39 coal-fired power plants and 56 industrial facilities in Texas.
* Autism rates examined were from 1,040 Texas school districts.
* For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by all industrial sources in Texas into the environment in 1998, there was a corresponding 2.6 percent increase in autism rates in the Texas school districts in 2002.
* For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by Texas power plants in 1998, there was a corresponding 3.7 percent increase in autism rates in Texas school districts in 2002.
* Autism prevalence diminished 1 percent to 2 percent for every 10 miles from the source.
* Mercury exposure through fish consumption is well documented, but very little is known about exposure routes through air and ground water.
* There is evidence that children and other developing organisms are more susceptible to neurobiological effects of mercury.
“We need to be concerned about global mercury emissions since a substantial proportion of mercury releases are spread around the world by long-range air and ocean currents,” Dr. Palmer said. “Steps for controlling and eliminating mercury pollution on a worldwide basis may be advantageous. This entails greener, non-mercury-polluting technologies.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated environmental mercury releases at 158 million tons annually nationwide in the late 1990s, the time period studied by the Texas team. Most exposures were said to come from coal-fired utility plants (33 percent of exposures), municipal/medical waste incinerators (29 percent) and commercial/industrial boilers (18 percent). Cement plants also release mercury.
With the enactment of clean air legislation and other measures, mercury deposition into the environment is decreasing slightly.
Dr. Palmer and his colleagues pointed out the study did not reflect the true community prevalence rates of autism because children younger than school age are not counted in the Texas Education Agency data system. The 1:500 autism rates in the study are lower than the 1:150 autism rates in recent reports of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Furthermore, the authors note that distance was not calculated from individual homes to the pollution source but from central points in school districts that varied widely in area.
Data for environmentally released mercury were from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Toxics Release Inventory. Data for releases by coal-fired power plants came from the same inventory and from the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality. Data for school district autism came from the Texas Education Agency.
Journal reference: Palmer, R.F., et al., Proximity to point sources of environmental mercury release as a predictor of autism prevalence. Health & Place (2008), doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2008.02.001.
Adapted from materials provided by University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
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What They Don’t Tell You About Vaccination Dangers Can Kill You or
Ruin Your Life
By Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.
What Causes the Free Radicals
How Vaccines are Made
What Happens to the Brain With Vaccination?
What Happens When the Brain’s Immune System is Activated?
Direct Effect of the Cytokines
The Role of Autoimmunity and Viral Persistence
After 30 years of intensive research, much has been learned about how brain cells work and what goes wrong when disease arises. One of the great enigmas has been the connection between vaccinations and certain brain disorders such as:
- Gulf War Syndrome
More common neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s dementia and ALS)
As we learned more and more about how brain cells should work, we discovered that often normal processes, such as metabolism, could result in the accumulation of powerful chemical byproducts, called free radicals, that have the capacity to destroy these cells.
Free radicals, basically, are very reactive particles that bounce all around the cell damaging everything they touch. Most originate during the process of metabolism but can also arise from toxin exposure, irradiation and toxic metals. Because they are so destructive, cells have a network of defenses designed to neutralize them. This antioxidant network is composed of numerous components that include vitamins, minerals and special chemicals called thiols (glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid).
The idea that free radicals play a major role in all of the conditions listed above is now proven–the big question is why are so many free radicals being generated? In the case of autism, ADD and ADHD many came to support the idea that mercury derived from vaccines was the source of the radicals. And it was known that mercury could cause free radicals to be generated in large numbers within the brain. Evidence connecting mercury to the autism spectrum disorders, neurodegeneration and the Gulf War Syndrome is strong, but not exclusive.
Interestingly, all of these diseases also share another common event–over activation of a portion of the immune system.
It is important to appreciate that only a certain part of the immune system is overactive, because other parts, such as cellular immunity, are actually diminished. In some instances, as with the childhood disorders, the problem is congenital and in others it develops as a result of many factors such as aging, toxin exposure, poor nutrition and excessive vaccination itself. Mercury can impair immune function as well.
Basically, vaccines contain either killed viruses or bacteria, germ components, toxic extracts or live organisms that have been made less virulent–a process called attenuation. To stimulate an enhanced immune reaction against these organisms, manufacturers added powerful immune-stimulating substances such as squalene, aluminum, lipopolysacchride, etc. These are called immune adjuvants.
The process of vaccination usually required repeated injections of the vaccine over a set period of time. The combination of adjuvants plus the intended organism triggers an immune response by the body, similar to that occurring with natural infections, except for one major difference. Almost none of these diseases enter the body by injection. Most enter by way of the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, pulmonary passages or GI tract. For example, polio is known to enter via the GI tract. The membranes lining these passages contain a different immune system than activated by direct injection. This system is called the IgA immune system.
It is the first line of defense and helps reduce the need for intense activation of the body’s immune system. Often, the IgA system can completely head off an attack. The point being that injecting organisms to induce immunity is abnormal.
Because more and more reports are appearing citing vaccine failure, their manufacturers’ answer is to make the vaccines more potent. They do this by making the immune adjuvants more powerful or adding more of them. The problem with this approach is that in the very young, the nutritionally deficient and the aged, over-stimulating the immune system can have an opposite effect–it can paralyze the immune system.
This is especially prevalent with nutritional deficiency.
An early attempt to vaccinate Africans met with disaster when it was discovered that many were dying following vaccination. The problem was traced to widespread vitamin A deficiency among the tribes. Once the malnutrition was corrected, death rates fell precipitously.
Another problem we see with modern vaccines is that the immune stimulation continues over a prolonged period of time.
This is because of the immune adjuvants. They remain in the tissues, constantly stimulating immune-activating cells. With most natural infections the immune activation occurs rapidly, and once the infection is under control, it drops precipitously. This, as we shall see, is to prevent excessive damage to normal cells in the body.
It seems the brain is always neglected when pharmacologists consider side effects of various drugs. The same is true for vaccinations. For a long time no one considered the effect of repeated vaccinations on the brain.
This was based on a mistaken conclusion that the brain was protected from immune activation by its special protective gateway called the blood-brain barrier. More recent studies have shown that immune cells can enter the brain directly, and more importantly, the brain’s own special immune system can be activated by vaccination.
You see, the brain has a special immune system that operates through a unique type of cell called a microglia.
These tiny cells are scattered throughout the brain, lying dormant waiting to be activated. In fact, they are activated by many stimuli and are quite easy to activate. For our discussion, activation of the body’s immune system by vaccination is a most important stimuli for activation of brain microglia.
Numerous studies have shown that when the body’s immune system is activated, the brain’s immune cells are likewise activated. This occurs by several pathways, not important to this discussion. The more powerfully the body’s immune system is stimulated the more intense is the brain’s reaction. Prolonged activation of the body’s immune system likewise produces prolonged activation of the brain’s immune system.
Therein lies the danger of our present vaccine policy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Practice have both endorsed a growing list of vaccines for children, even newborns, as well as yearly flu shots for both children and adults. Children are receiving as many as 22 inoculations before attending school.
The brain’s immune system cells, once activated, begin to move about the nervous system, secreting numerous immune chemicals (called cytokines and chemokines) and pouring out an enormous amount of free radicals in an effort to kill invading organisms. The problem is–there are no invading organisms. It has been tricked by the vaccine into believing there are.
Unlike the body’s immune system, the microglia also secrete two other chemicals that are very destructive of brain cells and their connecting processes. These chemicals, glutamate and quinolinic acid, are called excitotoxins. They also dramatically increase free radical generation in the brain. Studies of patients have shown that levels of these two excitotoxins can rise to very dangerous levels in the brain following viral and bacterial infections of the brain. High quinolinic acid levels in the brain are thought to be the cause of the dementia seen with HIV infection.
The problem with our present vaccine policy is that so many vaccines are being given so close together and over such a long period that the brain’s immune system is constantly activated. This has been shown experimentally in numerous studies. This means that the brain will be exposed to large amounts of the excitotoxins as well as the immune cytokines over the same period.
Studies on all of these disorders, even in autism, have shown high levels of immune cytokines and excitotoxins in the nervous system. These destructive chemicals, as well as the free radicals they generate, are diffused throughout the nervous system doing damage, a process called bystander injury. It’s sort of like throwing a bomb in a crowd.
Not only will some be killed directly by the blast but those far out into the radius of the explosion will be killed by shrapnel.
Normally, the brain’s immune system, like the body’s, activates quickly and then promptly shuts off to minimize the bystander damage. Vaccination won’t let the microglia shut down. In the developing brain, this can lead to language problems, behavioral dysfunction and even dementia.
In the adult, it can lead to the Gulf War Syndrome or one of the more common neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s dementia or Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS).
A recent study by the world-renowned immunologist Dr. H. Hugh Fudenberg found that adults vaccinated yearly for five years in a row with the flu vaccine had a 10-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. He attributes this to the mercury and aluminum in the vaccine. Interestingly, both of these metals have been shown to activate microglia and increase excitotoxicity in the brain.
Various cytokines have been used to treat cancer patients as well as other common diseases.
Studies of the effects of these cytokines on brain function reveal some very close parallels to the diseases we have been discussing. For a more in-depth study of these effects I suggest you read my article appearing in the Journal of the American Nutriceutical Association (volume 6 [fall], Number 4, 2003, pp 21-35) and in the summer issue 2004 of the Journal of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.
One can see:
In the child, brain immune over-activation has been shown to be particularly damaging to the amygdala and other limbic structures of the brain. This can lead to unusual syndromes such as the loss of “theory of mind” and ” Alice in Wonderland syndrome.” It has also been shown to damage the executive functions of the frontal lobes.
In essence, what is lost is that which makes us social human beings, able to function in a complex world of ideas and interactions.
Several studies have indeed shown elevated levels of cytokines in autistic children. It is also interesting to note that these cytokines, especially interleukin-1ß and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) dramatically increase the damage produced by excitotoxins. So, what we see is a viscous cycle of immune activation, excitotoxin and cytokine excretion, and free radical production. The latter starts the cycle all over again.
Studies in autistic children have shown that a state of immune attack on the brain is occurring. Similar findings are seen with neurodegenerative diseases and the Gulf War Syndrome. It must be appreciated that this autoimmunity was triggered by the vaccinations and by organisms contaminating the vaccinations. Once started, the immune reaction cannot stop, thus triggering all the destructive reactions I have discussed.
Dr. Garth Nicolson has shown a direct connection between mycoplasma contamination of vaccines and the 200 percent increased incidence of ALS in Gulf War veterans. The disorder is produced by the same mechanism described above.
Another, even more common, problem is the use of live viruses in vaccines. The reason live viruses can be used is that they are weakened by passing them through a series of cultures–a process called attenuation. These attenuated, non-disease-causing viruses are then injected in hopes of stimulating the body to produce an immune attack.
The problem with this idea is two-fold.
First, we now know that in far too many cases these viruses escape the immune system and take up residence in the body–for a lifetime. A recent autopsy study of elderly individuals found that 20 percent of the brains contained live measles viruses and 45 percent of the other organs contained live measles viruses. Similar findings have been described in autistic children and the measles virus is identical genetically to the one used in the vaccine.
The second problem is that most of these viruses were found to be highly mutated. In fact, different mutations were found among viruses in various organs in the same individual.
This has been a secret kept from the public.
These attenuated viruses undergo mutation brought on by the presence of free radicals in the tissues and organs and they can mutate into virulent, disease-causing organisms. Recent studies have confirmed this frightening finding. In fact, a large percentage of Alzheimer’s disease patients have live viruses in their brain as compared to normal individuals.
Once these live viruses are injected, they cannot be removed. Because the viruses stay in the body, they will be under constant free radical exposure, which can increase during times of stress, illness, exercise and with aging. It is the free radicals that cause the virus to mutate.
In essence, the viruses can exist in the brain, or any organ, either silently and slowly producing destruction of the brain or spinal cord or producing sudden disease once the virus mutates to a highly lethal form.
We have seen that the policy of giving numerous vaccinations to individuals, especially infants and small children, is shear idiocy.
A considerable number of studies have shown conclusively that such a practice can lead to severe injury to the brain by numerous mechanisms. Because the child’s brain is undergoing a period of rapid growth from the third trimester of pregnancy until age 2 years, his or her brain is at considerable risk from this insane policy.
We have also seen that live-virus vaccines and contaminated vaccines hold a special risk in that the viruses tend to persist in a substantial number of individuals and that free radicals can cause the latent viruses to transform by genetic mutation into disease-causing organisms later in life.
It is vital that anyone scheduled for vaccination follow a schedule that allows no more than one vaccine every six months, allowing the immune system time to recover.
Live-virus vaccines should be avoided.
This was recently illustrated by the switch from the live polio vaccine to the killed virus. All cases of polio after the introduction of the vaccine, in the developed world, came from the vaccine itself. This was known from the beginning.
Finally, it is vital that anyone undergoing vaccination should start nutritional supplementation and adhere to a healthy diet before vaccination occurs. Vaccine complications are far fewer in individuals with good nutrition.