Contamination Fueling Autism Epidemic
In 2015, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) reported that 1 in 45 children in the United States now has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which includes Asperger’s Syndrome (a milder version of the disease). Just a few years ago, the rate was estimated at one in 88. Boys are five times more likely to be autistic than girls.
Nationwide, the number of 6- to 21-year-old students classified as having autism rose 165 percent between 2005 and 2014.
Autism spectrum disorders are found in individuals around the world, regardless of their ethnic, cultural, or economic backgrounds. Autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age two. About one out of every 100 adults has ASD, but that ratio will rise as young victims age.
In the United States, according to a 2010 study by the CDC, Utah, North Carolina and New Jersey have the highest rates of autism. ASD strikes one in every 32 Utah boys, and one in every 85 girls. In New Jersey, one in every 28 boys has ASD. The picture has likely changed dramatically since 2010. Plus, these regional discrepancies may reflect the varying ability to identify autism cases versus the actual incidence of the disease. Another factor that hampers research is the fact that some parents are reluctant to have their children labeled, which means that they avoid honest answers or avoid the screenings altogether. Diagnosis among ethnic minority children lags behind, so it’s unknown how many children with autism remain undiagnosed.
It’s also important to note that not all autism is the same. Like neurodegenerative disease, autism appears to vary depending on which region of the brain is under assault. Abnormal proteins are now associated with autism. In fact, it appears that the biggest difference between the neurodegenerative disease spectrum and autism spectrum disorders is age. Both spectrums share common environmental causes and pathologies.
“Rather than there being one ‘autism,’ these findings show that there are several autisms, each with its own specific course,” said Isaac Kohane, the Lawrence J. Henderson Professor of Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and leader of the research team. The results appeared Dec. 9 in Pediatrics.
By separating diagnoses out in six-month segments over the first 15 years of each child’s life, the researchers found one group of patients whose autism symptoms were associated with epilepsy and other seizure disorders. In a second, ASD patients had increased rates of bowel and infectious ear and respiratory symptoms. In a third, children had higher levels of psychiatric disorders, including ADHD, depression and schizophrenia. (A fourth group of patients could not be further characterized due to statistical limitations of the available data.)
Studies suggest that two-thirds of the autism epidemic is environmentally caused, which explains the regional variations from one part of the country to another.
“I suspected that connection between environmental status to the rate of autism might exist, but the signal is much stronger than I expected,” said researcher Andrey Rzhetsky, PhD from the University Of Chicago.
In support of an environmental cause, we can’t ignore that the global Alzheimer’s disease epidemic and the autism epidemic both began to rise in the late 1970s. They began to spike dramatically in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The spike in autism and Alzheimer’s disease are almost identical in terms of timing and trajectory. Is it just a coincidence or is there a common denominator at work?
As we continue connecting the dots, we can’t ignore a devastating brain disease in members of the deer family known as chronic wasting disease (CWD), a neurological epidemic in nature that shares the same timing and trajectory as autism and Alzheimer’s disease. They all speak volumes about a deadly form of environmental contamination. Thanks to reckless policies and practices, the neurotoxins are being spread like fertilizer.
Background On Toxic Municipal Waste
Cities have always tried to ignore their sewage challenges and keep the issue out of the public conversation. New York City once dumped its sewage sludge along the banks of rivers surrounding the city. After that disaster, it piped the sludge further into the rivers and then further out into the harbor. In 1924, the city was drowning in toxic sewage that filled New York Harbor. New York City began dumping sewage sludge far out at sea in hopes of outrunning the problem. Over time, this option also became an ecological disaster that threatened marine life and humans that consumed fish from the region.
In 1972, world leaders admitted that dumping highly toxic sewage sludge into the oceans killed entire underwater ecosystems and threatened public health. Some nations stopped the dumping immediately and started dumping it on land or burning it in incinerators. The most responsible cities started putting sewage sludge in landfills. Meanwhile, the United States allowed cities to keep dumping sewage sludge at sea for another 20 years. It finally passed the Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988, when beaches along the east coast were forced to close because of high levels of pathogens from sewage that washed up on shore.
The law prohibited all dumping of industrial waste and municipal sewage sludge into our oceans after December 31, 1991. It did nothing however, to keep cities such as Boston and Los Angeles from dumping millions of gallons of raw sewage directly into the oceans every day, but with the help of the U.S. EPA, the Act did redirect millions of tons of deadly toxins and pathogens from our oceans to farms, ranches, national forests, city parks, golf courses, playgrounds, fair grounds, race tracks, sport fields and beyond. From there, the pathogens began contaminating food, water and air as they were soaked up by crops, swept away by rainwater and picked up by windstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes and dumped on innocent citizens where they live, work and play. The runoff still contaminates our oceans after it filters through our creeks, lakes and rivers.
After the 1991 ban on ocean dumping, the EPA instituted a policy of sewage sludge reuse on agricultural land. It hired a PR firm to spin a new brand for the death dirt. They crafted the clever name “biosolids” to help disguise the hazards. The EPA promoted biosolids recycling throughout the 1990s. Unfortunately, the risk assessments were severely biased and flawed. The proof is in the pudding.
This new form of sewage dispersal has sparked a public health disaster that’s still unfolding in the form of autism, Alzheimer’s disease, west Nile virus, Zika virus, chronic wasting disease, valley fever, meningitis, hepatitis, and other threats to public health.
The risk assessments for these practices failed to account for heavy metals, pharmaceutical residue, radionuclides, carcinogens and a deadly form of protein known as a prion (which was unknown to the world of science at the time).
The practice sparked a public health disaster in exchange for healthier oceans and a very profitable new industry. The EPA even took its show on the road and convinced other nations to use its faulty risk assessments to justify multi-million dollar contracts for these new corporations. Countries such as Canada took the bait hook, line and sinker and never conducted its own risk assessments.
Chronic wasting disease is now rampant in Canada and it recently jumped the Atlantic to Norway’s reindeer herd. It’s spreading across the U.S. like wildfire as we spread more pathogens and lies. Land application sites often involve locations where poverty is high and economic prosperity is low, which means resistance is low. Sludge tends to be dumped where minorities live, leading to allegations of environmental racism. Unfortunately, contaminated food and water make it back to the cities where the infectious waste originated.
Treated sewage sludge has been used in the UK, Europe and China agriculturally for more than 80 years, though there is increasing pressure in some countries to stop the practice of land application due to farm land contamination and public outrage. In the 1990s there was pressure in some European countries to ban the use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer. Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and others introduced a ban to safeguard public health. Others should follow their example.
The Problem With Prions
Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.”
President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we all are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence and reckless disregard for public health.
Unfortunately, many brain diseases are a symptom of exposure to pathogens and toxins found in sewage, including deadly prions. The U.S. alone dumps more than 700 million tons of sewage sludge (biosolids) on farms, ranches, parks, golf courses and even playgrounds every year. Unfortunately, these neurological disorders escalated as the highly toxic sewage sludge on open land proceeded to contaminate air, food and water. The evidence points to prion exposure and the rising sources of heavy metals in our food, water and air. The reckless dumping of tons of sewage sludge is a pathway for toxins and infectious waste to reach your entire family.
Proteins are at the heart of many neurological disorders and disease, including Alzheimer’s disease. It appears that there could be a link to autism. An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, has identified misfolding and other molecular anomalies in a key brain protein associated with autism spectrum disorders. In theory, both Alzheimer’s and autism could have a common protein that sparks different symptoms in children versus adults (a developing mind versus an aging one).
Palmer Taylor, associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences at UC San Diego and dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and colleagues report in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry that misfolding of a protein called neuroligin-3, due to gene mutations, results in trafficking deficiencies that may lead to abnormal communications between neurons.
Genetic misfolding of neuroligins is thought to prevent normal formation and function of neuronal synapses. The gene mutation has been documented in patients with autism.
“It makes sense that there’s a connection,” said Taylor. “The neuroligins are involved in maintaining neuronal synapses and their malfunction is likely to affect a neuro-developmental disease.”
Neuroligins are post-synaptic proteins that help glue together neurons at synapses by connecting with pre-synaptic protein partners called neurexins. They are part of a larger family of proteins that includes many molecules with diverse functions.
Abnormal proteins in high levels exist in those diagnosed with autism. Autistic children have abnormalities in their immune systems and unusual collections of proteins in their blood that may be an indicator of the disorder, UC Davis researchers reported. A change in protein structure of DNA also has been observed, both of which are indicators of prions. Some of the abnormal proteins associated with autism are also found in people with schizophrenia.
Mercury in vaccines could expedite the onset of prion disease (regardless of age). The worst has been the anthrax vaccine, which is primarily given to soldiers. Any soldier already infected with prions prior to the anthrax vaccination experienced prion disease within a year after injection. Heavy metals unleashed into our food and water supplies via the dumping of sewage sludge (biosolids) also contributes to the unnecessary risks of developing autism and other neurological disorders.
Since children go through so many injections for vaccinations, the possibility of mercury exposure and prion exposure is high. It could be a cocktail that is contributing to the autism epidemic. Mercury and other heavy metals are commonly found in mismanaged sewage, which can contaminate food and water supplies.
Few prevalence studies for autism exist outside of the U.S., Canada and the U.K. In South Korea, however, a recent study found an autism rate of one in 38 children, but many more go unreported to avoid stigma to the family. In China, only 1.1 in every 1,000 children has autism. About 700,000 people in the U.K. have ASD (including adults). The rate is up by 56 percent in the last five years.