Archive for the 'Energy' Category

Mercury & Autism: Definitely Linked

May 1, 2008

Suspicions have finally been confirmed: mercury has been linked to autism by the University of Texas Health Science Center. The researchers found that the distance a child lived from a mercury emitting coal power plant or other industrial facility influenced the his or her likelihood of autism. You may have even seen ads lately advocating the use of coal as a clean energy source. CARE Energy says on their website that coal is becoming cleaner by reducing “the emissions of electricity generation.” They do not even mention mercury! Where do you think the elevated levels in fish come from? Researcher Vincent St. Louis said: “We can say conclusively that if you reduce mercury emissions it will result in less mercury in fish.”

Although the study only focused on one aspect of mercury exposure (as a study must do in order to be considered valid), how can we not conclude mercury is dangerous in every context? Pollution by mercury is “…is a problem of global magnitude,” says James Hurley, assistant director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Aquatic Sciences Center. We have yet to find how much destruction is being caused by mercury. But we know that it has already had negative impacts on humans, wildlife, and the environment. It is safe to say it has impacted our future, too.

Unfortunately mercury is extremely prevalent. Mercury has been found in California rainwater from industrial waste in China. For energy conservation, we are advised to switch to fluorescent light bulbs. They do save energy, but they are filled with mercury. “According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 800 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of every year.” Mike Adams of figures that amounts “to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste. Astonishingly, that’s almost half the amount of mercury emitted into the atmosphere by coal-fired power plants each year. It only takes 4mg of mercury to contaminate up to 7,000 gallons of freshwater, meaning that the 30,000 pounds of mercury thrown away in compact fluorescent light bulbs each year is enough to pollute nearly every lake, pond, river and stream in North America (not to mention the oceans).” LEDs are a great alternative to fluorescents.

Some children may develop autism as a result of mercury exposure, but just because someone is not affected in this particular way, it is not safe to believe it is not affecting them AT ALL. It seems more dramatic to believe that an individual is somehow IMMUNE to mercury than that he or she is being affected in less quantifiable and identifiable ways. Just because a person does not exhibit enough similar symptoms as those corresponding to a disease or disorder label with a disorder does not mean their quality of life is unaltered. Parents of children with autism seek answers. The general population seems less motivated about finding out why they are sick or obese or tired, though mercury has also been linked with damaging the nervous systems of unborn children, heart attack, and stroke.

Several disorders and diseases have been linked to pollutants and chemicals and toxins in our environment and our food. Asthma is now linked to several household cleaning products and air fresheners. High fructose corn syrup is linked to diabetes. Pesticides are linked to hormone complications and premature births.

It might not be possible to be completely isolated from mercury overexposure, but there are some precautions to take:

-avoid fluorescent lighting
-avoid living near coal power plants (for every 10 miles, the rate of autism dropped 1-2%)
-support alternative energy sources
-be cautious of fish intake, replace with omega-3 supplement like OmegaBrite

There are better options to all of our toxic products and energy sources; we just have to start choosing them!