New study links mercury emissions and autism
Several studies have shown that children exposed to mercury emissions have a higher risk of brain damage. A new study from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio links industrial mercury emissions with increased rates of autism.
Mercury is a neurotoxin that can affect the brain, heart and immune system. Even low levels of mercury exposure can cause learning disabilities, developmental delays, lowered IQ and problems with attention and memory. Developing fetuses and infants are most vulnerable.
The UT Health Science Centerís study found that for every 1000 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. The researchers also noted that the prevalence of autism went down by as much as 2 percent for every ten miles from the source of the mercury pollution.
Coal burning power plants are the largest industrial source of mercury emissions in the United States. The technology is available to significantly reduce mercury emissions. And clean energy options, like solar and wind make it possible to move away from using coal as a fuel, and drastically reduce mercury emissions. It is clear that there are ways to have the electricity we need without children having increased risk of autism.
Let your local, state and national representatives know that you want current coal-burning power plants to reduce their emission and no new ones built. Clean renewable sources of energy can provide the power needed for a healthier, sustainable future for our children and our grandchildren.