Mercury Pollution and Autism
Bush Administration Rolls Over Again
[Blogger Note: This story from Reuters talks about Texas, but Mercury pollution is a big problem in SC too. Many of our rivers and lakes are polluted and we are cautioned not to eat the fish for fear of mercury. This is an issue that unites Progressives and Conservatives and we should be talking about it]
By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Mercury released primarily from coal-fired power plants may be contributing to an increase in the number of cases of autism, a Texas researcher said on Wednesday.
A study to be published on Thursday in the journal "Health and Place" found that autism, a developmental disorder marked by communication and social interaction problems, increased in Texas counties as mercury emissions rose, said Claudia Miller, a family and community medicine professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
"The main finding is that for every thousand pounds of environmentally released mercury, we saw a 17 percent increase in autism rates," she said in an interview.
About 48 tons of mercury are released into the air annually in the United States from hundreds of coal-burning plants.
Some experts estimate there are 1.5 million people in the United States with autism, most of them children, and say the number of cases has risen rapidly in recent years.
The Bush administration this week ordered power plants to cut mercury pollution by 50 percent within 15 years, but environmentalists said the action fell short of what was needed. They have called for a 90 percent cut in mercury emissions.