By Molly Rauch, MCAF
We know that autism is on the rise, and as parents, we are frustrated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 88 children in the US has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This is an increase of 78 percent since 2002.
What is driving this? Genes evolve far too slowly to account for the drastic rise in this disorder. A prime suspect: ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURES.
Yesterday, environmental health experts Philip Landrigan and Luca Lambertini, both of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, published a list of ten widely distributed chemicals already suspected of causing neurodevelopmental disorders, or brain problems, in children.
These are the TOP SUSPECTS, according to the experts:
Lead. This used to be added to paint and gasoline, and still can be found in soil, water, old paint, toys, and other consumer products.
Methylmercury. Mercury comes out of the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants under lax regulation. This mercury precipitates out over oceans and lakes, and is transformed into methylmercury as it gets into the food web. We are exposed to toxic methylmercury primarily from eating fish.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). A family of chemicals used widely in electrical equipment until their ban in 1979, PCBs persist in the environment and can contaminate fish and other food. They accumulate in animal fats, so are prevalent in farmed salmon (which is fattier than wild salmon), beef, eggs, chicken, cheese, and butter.
Organophosphate pesticides. These include such common insecticides as malathion, parathion, diazinon, and chlorpyrifos.
Organochlorine pesticides. These include lindane, a common lice treatment, and endosulfan. DDT (now banned) is an organochlorine pesticide that Rachel Carson made infamous as a bird-killer.