Air Pollution and Autism: more Evidence that Environmental Toxins play a Role in ASD

Growing evidence that ASD is linked to pollution, with babies 283% more likely to suffer from the condition compared to other birth defects…

Environmental and State-Level Regulatory Factors Affect the Incidence of Autism and Intellectual Disability

A PLOS Computational Biology Journal article offers strong evidence that environmental toxins play a role in the autism spectrum disorder. The research looked at birth defects associated with parental exposure to pollution and found a 1% increase in the defects corresponded to a 283% increase in autism.

Abstract
image of PLOS Computational Biology logo
An open-access, peer-reviewed journal. @PLOSCompBiol tweets for the PLOS Computational Biology team.

Many factors affect the risks for neurodevelopmental maladies such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). To compare environmental, phenotypic, socioeconomic and state-policy factors in a unified geospatial framework, we analyzed the spatial incidence patterns of ASD and ID using an insurance claims dataset covering nearly one third of the US population. Following epidemiologic evidence, we used the rate of congenital malformations of the reproductive system as a surrogate for environmental exposure of parents to unmeasured developmental risk factors, including toxins. Adjusted for gender, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geopolitical factors, the ASD incidence rates were strongly linked to population-normalized rates of congenital malformations of the reproductive system in males (an increase in ASD incidence by 283% for every percent increase in incidence of malformations, 95% CI: [91%, 576%], p<6×10−5). Such congenital malformations were barely significant for ID (94% increase, 95% CI: [1%, 250%], p = 0.0384). Other congenital malformations in males (excluding those affecting the reproductive system) appeared to significantly affect both phenotypes: 31.8% ASD rate increase (CI: [12%, 52%], p<6×10−5), and 43% ID rate increase (CI: [23%, 67%], p<6×10−5). Furthermore, the state-mandated rigor of diagnosis of ASD by a pediatrician or clinician for consideration in the special education system was predictive of a considerable decrease in ASD and ID incidence rates (98.6%, CI: [28%, 99.99%], p = 0.02475 and 99% CI: [68%, 99.99%], p = 0.00637 respectively). Thus, the observed spatial variability of both ID and ASD rates is associated with environmental and state-level regulatory factors; the magnitude of influence of compound environmental predictors was approximately three times greater than that of state-level incentives. The estimated county-level random effects exhibited marked spatial clustering, strongly indicating existence of as yet unidentified localized factors driving apparent disease incidence. Finally, we found that the rates of ASD and ID at the county level were weakly but significantly correlated (Pearson product-moment correlation 0.0589, p = 0.00101), while for females the correlation was much stronger (0.197, p<2.26×10−16).

Sources and Press releases

Older Related Articles

Air Pollution and Newly Diagnostic Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Population-Based Cohort Study in Taiwan

Abstract

There is limited evidence that long-term exposure to ambient air pollution increases the risk of childhood autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The objective of the study was to investigate the associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and newly diagnostic ASD in Taiwan. We conducted a population-based cohort of 49,073 children age less than 3 years in 2000 that were retrieved from Taiwan National Insurance Research Database and followed up from 2000 through 2010. Inverse distance weighting method was used to form exposure parameter for ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particles with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 µm (PM10). Time-dependent Cox proportional hazards (PH) model was performed to evaluate the relationship between yearly average exposure air pollutants of preceding years and newly diagnostic ASD. The risk of newly diagnostic ASD increased according to increasing O3, CO, NO2, and SO2 levels. The effect estimate indicating an approximately 59% risk increase per 10 ppb increase in O3 level (95% CI 1.42–1.79), 37% risk increase per 10 ppb in CO (95% CI 1.31–1.44), 340% risk increase per 10 ppb increase in NO2 level (95% CI 3.31–5.85), and 17% risk increase per 1 ppb in SO2 level (95% CI 1.09–1.27) was stable with different combinations of air pollutants in the multi-pollutant models. Our results provide evident that children exposure to O3, CO, NO2, and SO2 in the preceding 1 year to 4 years may increase the risk of ASD diagnosis.

Sources PLOSone September 25, 2013DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075510

Autism Spectrum Disorders in Relation to Distribution of Hazardous Air Pollutants in the San Francisco Bay Area

Abstract

Objective
To explore possible associations between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and environmental exposures, we linked the California autism surveillance system to estimated hazardous air pollutant (HAP) concentrations compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Methods
Subjects included 284 children with ASD and 657 controls, born in 1994 in the San Francisco Bay area. We assigned exposure level by census tract of birth residence for 19 chemicals we identified as potential neurotoxicants, developmental toxicants, and/or endocrine disruptors from the 1996 HAPs database. Because concentrations of many of these were highly correlated, we combined the chemicals into mechanistic and structural groups, calculating summary index scores. We calculated ASD risk in the upper quartiles of these group scores or individual chemical concentrations compared with below the median, adjusting for demographic factors.

Results
The adjusted odds ratios (AORs) were elevated by 50% in the top quartile of chlorinated solvents and heavy metals [95% confidence intervals (CIs), 1.1–2.1], but not for aromatic solvents. Adjusting for these three groups simultaneously led to decreased risks for the solvents and increased risk for metals (AORs for metals: fourth quartile = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.0–3.0; third quartile = 1.95; 95% CI, 1.2–3.1). The individual compounds that contributed most to these associations included mercury, cadmium, nickel, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride.

Conclusions
Our results suggest a potential association between autism and estimated metal concentrations, and possibly solvents, in ambient air around the birth residence, requiring confirmation and more refined exposure assessment in future studies.

Sources NCBI Environ Health Perspect. Sep 2006; 114(9): 1438–1444 PMC1570060

Secret Toxic Chemicals in Pads

Toxic chemicals do not belong in feminine products.
Tell Tampax to Detox the Box!

Toxic chemicals don’t belong in Pads. Period.

toxic chemicals in pads infographics
Toxic chemicals don’t belong in Pads. Period.

Always: Detox the Box!

Women’s Voices for the Earth November 2013 Chem Fatale report found toxic chemicals commonly used in feminine care products like pads and tampons. ” Unfortunately, because pads and tampons are regulated as “medical devices” and not “personal care products,” companies aren’t required by law to disclose any of the ingredients used in these products. We know that Procter & Gamble, makers of Tampax and Always, uses some toxic fragrance chemicals – and we have a right to know what else they’re using in pads and tampons. ”

Sources and More Information

On Flickr®

Secret Toxic Chemicals in Tampons

Toxic chemicals do not belong in feminine products.
Tell Tampax to Detox the Box!

Toxic chemicals don’t belong in Tampons. Period.

toxic chemicals in tampons infographics
Toxic chemicals don’t belong in Tampons. Period.

Tampax: Detox the Box!

Women’s Voices for the Earth November 2013 Chem Fatale report found toxic chemicals commonly used in feminine care products like pads and tampons. ” Unfortunately, because pads and tampons are regulated as “medical devices” and not “personal care products,” companies aren’t required by law to disclose any of the ingredients used in these products. We know that Procter & Gamble, makers of Tampax and Always, uses some toxic fragrance chemicals – and we have a right to know what else they’re using in pads and tampons. ”

Sources and More Information

On Flickr®

Tampax and Always: Detox the Box campaign

Toxic chemicals don’t belong in pads and tampons. Period

Women's Voices Earth logo

Women’s Voices Earth work to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women’s health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices & government policies.

Women’s Voices for the Earth November 2013 Chem Fatale report found toxic chemicals commonly used in feminine care products like pads and tampons. ” Unfortunately, because pads and tampons are regulated as “medical devices” and not “personal care products,” companies aren’t required by law to disclose any of the ingredients used in these products. We know that Procter & Gamble, makers of Tampax and Always, uses some toxic fragrance chemicals – and we have a right to know what else they’re using in pads and tampons. ”

Sources and More Information

The “Mind the Store” Campaign

Video by SaferChemicals’s channel, 2013

Mind the Store is the campaign from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families that works with retailers on moving the marketplace away from toxic chemicals.
Video by SaferChemicals’s channel, Published on 10 Jul 2013.

Overview

More info and Videos

SlideShow Health Books

Not just public health books but analysis and surveys of major concerns or real stories of interest

Reckoning with Risk Learning to Live with Uncertainty

 

Will Congress finally pass Laws that restrict Toxic Chemicals in our EveryDay Products?

Should We Count on Companies to Protect Us From Toxic Chemicals?

Jeanne Rizzo image
Jeanne Rizzo is President and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund.

” … Some retail and manufacturing giants are abandoning toxic chemicals in personal care and other products in favour of safer ingredients.

This market shift is a direct response to mounting scientific evidence of harm from chemical exposure and to a groundswell of consumer demand spurred by groups like the BreastCancerFund‘s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, SaferChemicalsMind the Store campaign, SafeCosmetics action alerts and many others. 

But peek behind this story of voluntary corporate action and you’ll see a federal system that is failing to protect the public from toxic chemicals in our everyday products; a government so stymied that its work on chemicals management has been easily eclipsed by a handful of companies making a few corporate policy changes... ”

Read Should We Count on Companies to Protect Us From Toxic Chemicals? by Jeanne Rizzo, President and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, 01/09/2014

Food Contact Materials and Human Health

Food packaging chemicals may be harmful to human health over long term, will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge?

Packaged burger and chips in contact with plastic packaging
Chemicals leaching into food from packaging raise safety concerns – image via @guardian

The synthetic chemicals used in the packaging, storage, and processing of foodstuffs might be harmful to human health over the long term, warn environmental scientists. This is because most of these substances are not inert and can leach into the foods we eat, they say. Despite the fact that some of these chemicals are regulated, people who eat packaged or processed foods are likely to be chronically exposed to low levels of these substances throughout their lives. And far too little is known about their long term impact. ”

Recent Studies and Press Releases;

  • The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health doi:10.1136/jech-2013-202593, Food packaging and migration of food contact materials: will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge?, 19 Feb 2014
  • Food packaging chemicals may be harmful to human health over long term, ScienceDaily, 19 Feb 2014
  • Chemicals leaching into food from packaging raise safety concerns, The Guardian, 19 Feb 2014

Toxic Chemicals are in Your Home, in Your Body

Chances are that your home is polluted with dangerous and sometimes life threatening chemicals…

Toxic Chemicals are in Your Home, in Tour Body, by @ChemicalsInHome on Flickr
Chances are that your home is polluted with dangerous and sometimes life threatening chemicals.

On Flickr®

A Small Dose of Toxicology

Free eBook by Toxipedia

A Small Dose of Toxicology, free eBook by @Toxipedia, on Flickr
Download the free E-Book and donate

A Small Dose of Toxicology The Health Effects of Common Chemicals by Steven G. Gilbert explores the principles of toxicology by examining the health effects of common chemical agents. Every day, we come into contact with many relatively harmless substances that could, at certain concentrations, be toxic. This applies not only to obvious candidates such as asbestos, lead, mercury, and gasoline, but also to such common compounds as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and headache tablets. While the field of toxicology has numerous technical books devoted to aspects of biology, chemistry, and mechanisms of action, A Small Dose of Toxicology places toxicology within the framework of our daily lives.

More Information:

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