The Curious Incident of the Mercury in the School Yard
Study suggests mercury and autism linked
Higher levels of mercury in the environment may be linked to higher rates of autism, a study of Texas school districts found. Districts with the highest rates of autism and special-education students also had the most mercury in the air and water, researchers discovered. They caution that the study doesn’t prove a causal link, but say the connection is worrisome and deserving of further study, as autism rates have soared in the last 20 years. Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by a range of symptoms including anti-social behavior, poor language skills, and isolation from the rest of the world (sound like a famous Texan you know?). The study found that for every 1,000 pounds of mercury released, there was a 43 percent increase in special-ed services and a 61 percent increase in autism. The U.S. EPA released its new mercury regulations this week, which allow heavy emitters to buy the “right” to pollute from cleaner sources — potentially bad news for school districts near big polluters.