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Air Pollution Autism Link Suggested in Pittsburgh Study

By    |   Friday, 24 October 2014 07:17 AM

Air pollution may cause autism disorders, suggests a new study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh.

"Autism spectrum disorders are a major public health problem, and their prevalence has increased dramatically," Evelyn Talbott, study leader and professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, said in a news release.

"Despite its serious social impact, the causes of autism are poorly understood. Very few studies of autism have included environmental exposures while taking into account other personal and behavioral risk factors. Our analysis is an addition to the small but growing body of research that considers air toxics as one of the risk factors for ASD."

Dr. Talbott and her team interviewed 217 families with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and compared them to two other sets of children across six counties in the Pittsburgh area.

After controlling for age of the mother, race, education and maternal cigarette smoking, the researchers found that children with ASD had experienced a higher total exposure to 30 pollutants linked to neurodevelopmental issues and endocrine disruption.

According to Forbes, the pollutants most strongly correlated with ASD included: "styrene (used in plastics and paints and also a product of combustion when burning gas in vehicles), cyanide (which becomes airborne from car exhaust and smoking), and chromium (a heavy metal used mostly in making steel, what Pittsburgh’s known for)."

"Our results add to the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures, such as air pollution, to ASD," said Talbott. "The next step will be confirming our findings with studies that measure the specific exposure to air pollutants at an individual level to verify these EPA-modeled estimates."

The results of the findings are preliminary. They were presented Wednesday at the American Association for Aerosol Research annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.

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Air pollution may cause autism disorders, suggests a new study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh.
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Friday, 24 October 2014 07:17 AM
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