According to a study about to be published in the journal Health and Place, Texas communities with the highest rates of special education and autism also have the stateÃs highest levels of environmental mercury. The study correlated Environmental Protection Agency data collected in all of TexasÃs 254 counties with respect to mercury pollution and the numbers of special education and autism cases in 1,200 school districts.
While the researchers stress this study does not suggest autism is caused by environmental mercury, they do point out that the connection between the two is strong enough to warrant a more comprehensive investigation. Mercury is one of the most toxic substances in the world and even a tiny amount like one teaspoon is enough to contaminate a 25-acre lake. Raymond F. Palmer, Ph.D., who conducted the study, stated that unpublished data from outside of Texas revealed similar findings with respect to mental retardation and autism.