Environmental mercury release, special education rates, and autism disorder: An ecological study of Texas

Raymond F. Palmer, Steven Blanchard, Zachary Stein, David Mandell, Claudia Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations

Abstract

The association between environmentally released mercury, special education and autism rates in Texas was investigated using data from the Texas Education Department and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. A Poisson regression analysis adjusted for school district population size, economic and demographic factors was used. There was a significant increase in the rates of special education students and autism rates associated with increases in environmentally released mercury. On average, for each 1000 lb of environmentally released mercury, there was a 43% increase in the rate of special education services and a 61% increase in the rate of autism. The association between environmentally released mercury and special education rates were fully mediated by increased autism rates. This ecological study suggests the need for further research regarding the association between environmentally released mercury and developmental disorders such as autism. These results have implications for policy planning and cost analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-209
Number of pages7
JournalHealth and Place
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Ecological
  • Environmental toxins
  • Mercury
  • Special education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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