Proximity to point sources of environmental mercury release as a predictor of autism prevalence

Raymond F. Palmer, Stephen Blanchard, Robert Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to determine if proximity to sources of mercury pollution in 1998 were related to autism prevalence in 2002. Autism count data from the Texas Educational Agency and environmental mercury release data from the Environmental Protection Agency were used. We found that for every 1000 pounds of industrial release, there was a corresponding 2.6% increase in autism rates (p<.05) and a 3.7% increase associated with power plant emissions(P<.05). Distances to these sources were independent predictors after adjustment for relevant covariates. For every 10 miles from industrial or power plant sources, there was an associated decreased autism Incident Risk of 2.0% and 1.4%, respectively (p<.05). While design limitations preclude interpretation of individual risk, further investigations of environmental risks to child development issues are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalHealth and Place
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Autism
  • Distance
  • Environment
  • Industry
  • Mercury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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