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.